Feature: Chat with Russell Downing

A Yorkshire ambassador, Russell Downing knows it’s going to be carnage in the Tour of Yorkshire this weekend and is busy resting up nursing his wounds!

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Feature: Chat with Russell Downing

If Russell Downing isn’t winning this year, he’s leading out teammates who are and his third place in the Tour of Wolds recently shows just how great his form is right now.

Had it not been for a crash and puncture in the CiCLE Classic, he may well have won that race but instead played the team role and chased down breaks and still finished 10th.

“I had a flat tyre on the park section the first time through (finishing circuit of the CiCLE Classic) and changed that and then crashed coming out of the park on the gravel. I broke the bike so needed a change and chased back.”

“Having done that, I realised I was a bit gassed so put everything I had in for Brenton; anything that went away, I was trying to keep it together. I tried to pull the final one back with Matt Cronshaw when his teammate Matt Holmes was popped from the break but I just dropped Brenton a bit short (a few seconds from the winners)”.

“The legs and the body were hurting a lot by then! A few days rest and hopefully the wounds don’t go any deeper but I’ll be right.”

As Russell had explained the night before as he spoke to us from the massage table, “You need lady luck on your side and just like any classic type bike race, you have to be in the right place at the right time by riding it from the front. If you don’t have any punctures or crashes, you should have a good race.”

As the photos taken on the day show, Russell was at the front when it mattered in the final half of the race but the puncture and crashed dashed his hopes. The form continues to keep him at the front of bike races despite the years rolling by. “I have been travelling around bit this season and not taking it easy as I get older!” ex explained as his aches and pains were being dealt with on the massage table.

“I have had some good stage races this season already so I’ll race this (CiCLE) and rest up for Yorkshire next week which I think I need to do as it’s a brutal race!”

An ambassador for the Tour of Yorkshire, Russell explained “I did a recon of the first 100 k up to the Shibden Wall and that was hard. There are climbs for the first 100k before it cruises over to the Sheffield side of the valley and just gets worse! At the back of the Strines and into the hills; short, steep twisty ones! The last 20 or 30 k is up and down and it will be carnage”.

“Every year it is getting harder. The first year we had that Scarborough stage and everyone said it was brutal, and the organisers made it harder again the second year and then even harder this year! They want an exciting race and the last day will be exciting. Anyone who gets the jersey on day one will do well to keep it on day three. It will be exciting for the public to watch but not good for the riders!”

Russell confirmed that riding the race is massive for the British teams. “It is a massive race for the British teams and they all send their A squads as we all want to get involved in the racing. The standard of UK racing is getting better and better so why can’t we compete with these world tour squads?”

Does he feel well prepared? “Hopefully. You need the strength from stage racing to get through the three days but also some sharpness about you which is why after this (CiCLE) I will relax a bit and not smash the hours in like normal.”

Climbing a ‘berg’ on the road from Owston to Somerby and Downing is bang near the front with the break up the road with a teammate (Tom Moses)

Are there any easy stages for the sprinters I asked? “The only sprint stage is stage 2 but it’s a hard sprint stage so it could be a small group which will suit our sprinters including me. I haven’t lost my sprint from previous years and I’ve still got the gas to place them (teammates) in the right position whether it’s Brenton or A Frame (Alex Frame) or anyone else I’m leading out. I think that will be my role, as I know they are faster and more powerful than I am now so that’s what I am doing on stage 2 if I don’t sneak into a breakaway ;-)”

And if riding his home Tour isn’t enough, two weeks later, he’s racing the Lincoln Grand Prix where he’s the equal record holder of victories with four. Can he make it five?

“If the form is good at Yorkshire, hopefully I can keep it going for Lincoln” Russell explained. “Things are changing though and we have some strong guys in the team and I’m happy to do a supporting role. I love seeing other teammates win when I do a good job so I’ll be honest with myself on the day and if I can’t win, I’ll put 100 per cent into someone else winning”.

“I am strong, always there and the positioning is good. There is no slacking these days in this team; no sitting at the back. We’re at the front racing and I think that is where the success came from last year and this year. We knit well together as a unit …”

No slacking in this video below with the team on the front including Russell

Good luck to Russell and his team




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