Russell Downing: The old Russell will be back next year!

After being let down by team Sky in 2011, Russell Downing is looking to return to the winner’s podium in 2012 with Endura Racing

Speaking to the Rotherham rider this week he says he’s grateful to Endura Racing for bringing him into their team when contracts were tight and he’s far from ready to retire like many riders have after losing a spot in a pro team.

Russell says that the race programme is looking pretty good although there may be changes if some races like the Tour of Med don’t happen. “We have the training camp in January after the team launch (London Bike Show) and then may be a few races in Majorca and then the Tour of Med, Haut Var etc in France.”

Training hard … okay, the sunhine may have gone but the riding on the Rotherham is bound to be hard if Russell Downing is on the front

There is though doubt over the Tour of Med as the French Federation say it’s cancelled while the organiser says it’s not. No doubt the true situation there will come out in the wash but listening to Russell, his programme for 2012 is going to be mainly European based.

The team he says has put him down for all their best races which shows the faith they have in him to help Endura Racing do well in many races that are household names in cycling. After Russell’s wins in Criterium International (stage 2) and the overall in the Tour of Wallonie, the Rotherham rider has shown he can win major cycling races which is what Endura Racing are looking for in their riders to help the team attract more sponsorship and move up to Pro Continental in 2013.

Asked about the mix of races in Europe and Britain, Russell says “it’s more Europe and Europe really! I have asked to do a few races here in Britain like the Lincoln which is a great race but anything can change in a riders race programme. I might also be doing the CiCLE Classic too but the programme is pretty fully on.”

The Tour of Britain is another race he wants to get back to saying it was pretty disappointing to miss it this year when not selected by Team Sky and that he’s already up for the challenge of doing well in Britain’s biggest road race.

Russell explained that because he’s training back home and not in Majorca, the rides are only six hours and not seven because the conditions are so much harder! “I love to train hard at the end of the day and I’m getting out when I can. I just did five really hard days and will probably try and do another of those before Christmas finishing off with the Saturday chain gang.”

Russell explained that most of the training is done alone or with a few of the other guys and together they get in some good miles. He’s moving house in the New Year too and says that with a new start with Endura Racing, he wants to get settled as quickly as possible and put to good use Endura’s winter clothing before heading for warmer climates in Majorca.

Russell in one of his many wins, this one of the three times he has won the Lincoln Grand Prix, a special race says Russell.

When based in Britain, Russell could always be relied on to win races and he carried that on with Team Sky in 2010. In 2011 however, it was more of a team role for Russell, helping others like his fellow chaingang partner, Ben Swift. What about 2012, does he feel the pressure to win again?

“I have always put stress on myself to get results in other seasons so there’s no change there” he replied. “This year has been the first of not having the stress of getting results because I’ve not had the chance. The old Russell will be back next year to win some races again though.”

Asked what’s it going to take for Endura Racing with at least three riders in the line-up who have ridden WorldTour events to win big races that will help the team step up a level in future years, Russell explained “there are only a handful of guys who can perform at that level on any given day so it’s up to the team to support the guy who is on good form and work as a unit.”

“That is one thing that Sky does well and something I want to take with me to Endura Racing to the training camps. We have some really good riders in the team now and anyone one of us could win but it’s about us not riding like individuals. Let’s ride together and win some good races!”

Russell agrees that having ridden at World Tour level for two seasons will help him in 2012 and so will his having ridden the Giro. “I am sure that has made me stronger. Everyone I have trained with now says I’m so much stronger so hopefully that will help me next year where I’ll have a better year.”

Lets hope so and fingers cross for Russell and Endura Racing in 2012.

Links: Endura Equipe Clothing as worn by the team |  Endura Racing Team Website

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