Feature: Dean Downing In-Depth part 3

In part 3 of the in depth feature on Dean Downing, we look at how Dean and brother Russell got to ride for the Great Britain team and travel to the other side of the world for the worlds

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Feature: Dean Downing In-Depth part 3

Dean Downing was one of the most successful domestic pros in the modern era and is now a sought-after coach. Enjoy part three 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.

Dean and Russell followed separate paths in their early careers, but in 2003 won the British madison title together. Their victory, achieved at the expense of several pairings from British Cycling’s World Class Performance Plan, brought them to the attention of Dave Brailsford and Shane Sutton.

Dean hand slings in Russell at the World track Championships in Melbourne, Australia

The federation selected them for the madison at every round of the 2003/04 UCI Track World Cup. Brailsford was transparent about their purpose: to qualify Great Britain for the same event at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, at which two members of his vaunted team pursuit squad would take over.

Echoing Brother UK’s ability to recognise opportunity in adversity, Dean pivoted the skills he had developed on the roads of Belgium to overturn the age handicap incurred by his successful pursuit of professional qualifications. Undeterred by Brailsford’s brutal honesty concerning the likelihood of an Olympic dream, he supplanted younger riders on the World Class Performance Plan to win a place in track cycling’s annual showcase: the World Championships.

“We were eighth in the final round in Sydney and selected for the World Championships. To ride the worlds with the brother you’d burned around the crescent with as kids was pretty amazing,” Dean says.

He is frank about his performance in Melbourne, describing himself as “legless”. As is often the case, however, the rider’s perception differs from reality. The brothers rode well enough to achieve Great Britain’s goal of qualifying for the Athens Games.

“Russ had a fantastic day, and I had a terrible day. I think we finished [twelfth]. Sat here now, that seems pretty good, but on the day, I was consoled by Dave B, consoled by Shane, consoled by Chris Boardman. I was devastated that I hadn’t done my best for Russ, but also for Team GB,” he admits.

“But it turned out that we had qualified. Russ and I weren’t selected to ride the madison at the Olympics, but Bradley Wiggins and Rob Hayles took bronze. The Downing Brothers helped them to win a medal.”

The occasion has left a lasting impact on both brothers. In a joint interview given on the eve of Dean’s final race, Russell revealed that representing Great Britain at a World Championships had been his highlight of their many races together. “It hit me a bit, but I thought, ‘This is absolutely true,’” Dean reflects.

“My lasting memory of the World Championships had been of me not riding very well and us not finishing in the top five. Since that interview, the memory of my performance has been overtaken by the achievement of representing Great Britain at a World Championships with my brother.”

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

Apple Podcasts – click here

Google Podcasts –  click here

Spotify – click here

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