News – Russell Downing at fault for crash?


With his season ruined by a crash at the Lincoln GP after hitting a stationary motorbike, salt is rubbed into the wound by British Cycling telling him ‘it was his fault’

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News – Russell Downing at fault for crash?

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This year was expected to be a really big one for Russell Downing. He asked to be released from his Netapp-Endura contract so he could come into the NFTO Pro Cycling Team to race alongside his brother for Dean’s last racing season.


Russell last Sunday in the Beaumont Trophy where he made the first chase group.

There were a lot of big goals, with one of them being a fifth record breaking win in the Lincoln GP and another being the Pearl Izumi Tour Series where he would get to wear the British Champion stripes. All that came to an end when he collided with a stationary motorbike in his favourite race, the Lincoln GP. The motorbike, an NEG one we understand so part of the race convoy, was says Russell parked on the side of the road.

“It was a motorbike that was stopped on the side of the road without any warning; no flags, no nothing and we hit it at full speed as we were going across to a breakaway. For them (British Cycling) to say it was mine and Sam Harrison’s fault is not good. I do find it hard that they have sort of said ‘it’s your fault’ which I think if you speak to anyone in the peloton, it was the (owner of the) motorbike’s fault and not the riders”.

“I had no warning. I probably saw it and a second later was hitting it. I just hit the motorbike and didn’t get a chance to brake. He definitely should not have been there and we’re going to have to make some more enquiries and see what’s happening”.


Dean and Russell Downing raced together in Dean’s last Tour Series event at Woking.

Crashing is part of a bike rider’s life as Russell admits but this one it seems was preventable and raises questions as to what riders are covered for insurance wise in a race. British Cycling make a big deal out of insuring cyclists but here is an example where they seem to be backing away from that. For a rider like Russell, who has been a member for a long long time, it’s not how the organisation should be seen to be behaving.

But, it’s not only the cost of the operation which apparently has to be paid for by Russell and/or his team, but the cost of losing four weeks of the most important part of the season. “We have the national champs on TV, a chance to win the Lincoln for the fifth time and everything else. It’s had a massive knock on effect like now I am struggling to get form where as before it, I was going really well”.

“I based my season around the Tour Series being the British Champion and trained all winter for it. John’s invested in the team for it as well and two days before it, something like that happens. I’m leaving it in the hands of the team boss John (Wood). It isn’t just my loss but the team have lost as well with me and Sam not being available for the Tour Series and John invested in the team for that reason. Now, we’ve not been able to contribute to the Tour Series, so it’s not a good situation for the team”.

The crash was on May 11th and since then, Russell has been doing his best to get fit to show off the stripes in the Tour Series. This he did in the Woking and Jersey rounds of the series and has also competed in a couple of road races.

“It’s not 100 per cent so I still have to be careful because if I crash now, or in two months, it’s going to make a mess. I went back on Wednesday and the doc is happy with how things are rolling.”

The wound on top of his shoulder looked fresh and Russell explained he’s just had to have another operation on it but it was a simple one and he smiled when he said he still did four hours in the morning before the op.


The comeback race at Woking and the stripes finally get shown off in a race.

The crash has also prevented him from preparing for the British RR Champs in Wales this weekend. “I won that a few years ago now (2005) but it’s still a great achievement of mine” he told VeloUK. “It was a long old race then as well, 220k or something and it’s great to win and then wear the stripes all year. I had been up there previously and since but winning it was a highlight of the career.”

“Everyone comes into the race from different training programmes, different race programmes, like guys come out of the Dauphine ready for the Tour de France, so everyone is in tip top shape and if the course is really hard, that is what we’re up against.”

“It will be a tough race with a lot of riders in good shape especially with the Tour around the corner. It (a selection) normally goes early and if you miss that, you’re out of the race. Even if you do make the selection, you need to save something for when it goes hard again”.


You could say a rider is always pretty chuffed to win the British RR Championship…. Russell in 2005 beating Steve Cummings to the line

“I don’t expect to be up there for the win having had five weeks without much racing but I am looking forward to getting stuck in though. I feel better with each race I do and had some good training so might be going well …. by September!”

Good luck to Fonzy for the coming season where there are still many a big race to be won.

If British Cycling would like to put their side of the story and explain why it was Russell’s fault, or correct anything they feel we have got wrong, please do email us.

Send your results as well as club, team & event news here

FOOTNOTE: The incident with Russell Downing is not isolated. Another happened in Cotswold Veldrijden Road Race at Malmesbury where a NEG parked the bike across a driveway but on the road and perhaps unwittingly, created a danger and was hit by three or four riders, two seriously. The opinion of some one who was there but did not hit the bike, it was the fault of the NEG bike, there to protect the riders but perhaps not race savy to realise he was causing a danger. If this has happened to you, were you insured for the damage done? Contact us so we can highlight a problem that needs fixing.

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