Feature: Dean Downing In-depth

Dean Downing was one of the most successful domestic pros in the modern era and is now a sought-after coach. Enjoy part one of our serialisation of an in-depth interview with Dean from Brother UK Cycling. You can read the full article on the Brother UK Cycling Blog.

Feature: Dean Downing In-depth

The names Dean and Russell Downing are synonymous with British cycle sport. Dean, the elder of the siblings that dominated domestic road racing in arguably its strongest era, is good conversation, to say the least. The first guest on the new Brother UK Cycling Podcast, he has much to discuss. The decision to extend his interview from one episode to two is soon reached.

Dean’s riding career by itself would justify a broadcast or article: countless domestic victories, a Track World Championships for Team GB, professional qualifications gained at Sheffield Hallam University and a sporting education gained in the all-consuming cycling culture of Flanders.

Dean’s motivations align with Brother UK’s in his embrace of continuous improvement and the value he places on long-term relationships; notably with Russell, but also with former team manager John Herety and his two most successful coaching clients, both of whom he met as juniors.

His work as a coach has already yielded two world championships for Ben Tulett (Alpecin-Fenix) and British elite road and time-trial titles for Alice Barnes (Canyon-SRAM), riders he first met through Ben’s father Alistair. Both are stars of a new era in cycle sport, but Dean’s embrace of modern, data-driven training methods has not come at the expense of the innate will to win obvious to any who watched him race.

“I always had the motto: ‘The finish line is there for a reason. You’ve got to cross it first.’ That’s the aim. Why else would you be there? Yes, racing is great fun, but if you’re a winner, the aim is to cross that finish line first. How you get there is another matter,” he says.

His determination to be the smartest rider in a race, even when he was not the strongest is both evidenced and obscured by the most satisfying triumph of his domestic career: victory in 2007 atop the brutal Michaelgate climb to conclude a savage war of attrition with Gordon McCauley, held in arguably the worst conditions witnessed at the Lincoln Grand Prix. ‘Deano’ hung tough and used all of his wiles to win on that day of days.

He is enthused by the abundance of young British talent and saddened by the demise of the domestic road scene. His analysis of the current malaise is, however, clear-sighted, rather than condemnatory. He identifies a vicious circle in which a steady diminution in the number of top-class races has prompted Britain’s best teams and riders to race abroad.

Our conversation is littered with names from a golden era for domestic cycle sport so recent it can almost be touched, and yet already passed into history; riders, managers, sponsors and races. The future, he hopes, can be brighter still.

Click here to read the full article, or click here to listen to Dean in conversation with Aussie Larry, Timothy John and Phil Jones MBE, the Managing Director of Brother UK, on the Brother UK Cycling Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify.


Full article: click here

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