Talkingshop: Russell Downing training for the Classics


Powering his way over the climbs in Yorkshire, Net-App-Endura rider Russell Downing is training hard to make the team selection for the Spring Classics

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The news gets better for NetApp-Endura with wildcard invitations for classics such as Amstel Gold, Paris-Roubaix and now Tour of Flanders. One rider covering a lot of miles over a lot of hills and bouncing over a lot of cobbles, is Russell Downing.


Russell full gas on the track prior to the road season with some special wheels from Cycle Division

VeloUK spoke to Russell this afternoon after he’d been training in the fog and freezing temperatures of South Yorkshire. He explained how the last two weeks after been really good training. “I have fully recovered from the crashes in Qatar and Oman where I got bounced round a bit. I had some bad luck though in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (Het Volk) when I got caught behind a crash with 40k to go and was in the back half of the split. That was disappointing because I had the legs that day.”

Since then Russell hasn’t raced and has been training for the big races to come. “I came home after that and have been concentrating on the training I need to do and that’s been good. I have been heading out with the boys and then doing some extra. I did a big ride last week over Holme Moss so I’m doing a bit of everything.”

“On the last hour or hour and half of the rides, I have been concentrating on doing the little climbs near me, two minute climbs including a cobbled one I do a few times.”

Asked what it feels like being with a team that is getting such invites to such high profile races, Russell replied “we couldn’t ask for much more and have proved we are worthy of the invites. We had Zak (Dempster) in the break at Het Nieuwsblad and were up there at the end; we just need some luck.”


Russell on the front of the NetApp-Endura group on a training ride earlier this year. Photo:

“It’s good the organisers are seeing that we don’t just go in to make the numbers up. I’ve just got to make the team now. Hopefully I’ll get to ride Flanders which would be a dream come true. I have wanted to ride Flanders and was a reserve with Sky for a couple of years so it would be nice to get a ride for sure.”

Both Russell and his brother Dean have lived and raced in Belgium. Russell explains “Belgium suits me. I have lived round there so know what it’s like and have been simulating those little short steep climbs for the last two weeks at the end of every training ride; doing four or five of them which require that real power effort”.

Russell explained how he’s been out on the Tuesday run today as well as his own. “I normally go out with the boys and then do extra. I have been doing a lot on my own like three hours with the lads and then two more on my own. Dean has been out as well and I did get Swifty (Ben Swift) out on his first ride back (after injury) and that was good.”

Asked how he keeps that race fitness when he’s not racing, Russell replied “Just training hard and keeping the speed as high as I can. I keep an eye on the numbers on the SRM and looking at pulse rates as well which I haven’t done for years!”

Russell explained how after the races in Qatar and Oman, the team was doing another 50 on top of the 190k in the races so he has the big days in the bank and all is good. Russell heads for Holland this weekend for two days of racing in the Albert Achterhes Pet Ronde van Drenthe and Dwars door Drenthe UCI races.



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