Rider Chat: Russell Downing

The legend that is Russell Downing was back at the Ryedale Grand Prix many years after he won the first ever edition in 2005 – we had a quick chat …

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Rider Chat: Russell Downing

The legend that is Russell Downing was back at the Ryedale Grand Prix many years after he won the first ever edition in 2005 – we had a quick chat and I asked how the season has been for the solo Giordana rider?

“I have really enjoyed this season, no stress, no pressure” replied the rider nicknamed Fonzy. “I’ve been enjoying riding the bike again and picking the races I go to. Travelling all over the country in my own van solo, I know how you feel now! It’s been good though, supporting the local races as well like evening time trials and enjoying the bike again which is good”.

Back at Otley, Russell was in the hunt for the victory in a tough circuit race there, showing that he still has the legs to beat the youngsters on his day. Only a crash denied him that win. Asked how he felt about his performances this year, he says “happy. I wanted to get back to being a bike rider again and still be in the mix. At Otley, but for the crash, if I had got round that last corner, I’d definitely have made the podium so I’ve been trying to recover since then – I’m too old to be hitting the deck that hard…”

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During the race at Ryedale this year, Russell ‘s name was mentioned over race radio as being part of  some sorties off the front and he finished what was a brutal race. The first one ever held just happened to be a British Road Race Championship as well and Russell walked away from it wearing the champion’s stripes.

“I was in flying form and managed to cover all the moves early on and then get in quite a big split late on. It kept on whittling down and I ended up getting away with Stevo (Cummings) on the run in. We finished in Duncombe Park that year and he tried to attack me on the last climb and I held him. I knew I was then in with a chance that day. It was a long day, 230km or so with neutral and I think we were both cramping and sprinting into a headwind. I just nudged it and it was great feeling.”

Next year …
It’s always great to have riders like Russell in the peloton which changes year on year as riders come and go. Will we see Russell next year in the peloton?

“Not sure” was the reply. “I’d still like to race next year, perhaps not as serious as this year and pick the races. It’s getting to the bike races. As a one man band, you have to pack the van the day before and get everything dialled in and keep ticking the boxes and that’s not easy but if I didn’t love the sport, I wouldn’t do it”.

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“I am still putting the time in on the bike though. We have good (chain) gang here and it’s great getting out with that but if you’re getting busy with other things then the racing suffers. I have a few things bubbling away within Downing Cycling; coaching, mentoring and ride outs.”

“I still love the sport though and still want to stay in it. It has been great this year. Having Phil Griffiths (Yellow Ltd) backing me with all his brands along with Pinarello and Rawvelo, I think they get a lot from me, riding in the week, the racing and being in the media”.

“So it’s a good balance and I’d like to keep doing that for a few years. I always thought the last few years, the racing would not have so much of a focus but I still have that competitive streak. I don’t just sit on the bike doing nothing, I’m in there having a dig. When that can’t happen and I can’t even finish, then it’s time to hang it up”.

“I know where to be in a race and you just need to switch on and focus. It is a young mans sport though and some of them coming through are very talented but …”

Lets cross our fingers Russell returns to the peloton in 2020 … He still has the legs so why not Fonzy? …


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