Feature: Dean Downing In-Depth Part 4

In part 4 of the Dean Downing In-Depth feature interview, Tim asks Deano about that sensational victory in the Lincoln Grand Prix which saw one of the most joyous images of a rider winning a bike race…

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Feature: Dean Downing In-Depth Part 4

Lincoln calling

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

Family is a central theme of our conversation, whether it be the careers of the Downing brothers or the extended network Brother UK has created in British cycle sport by sponsorship of four teams, three races and a fleet of neutral service vehicles. It seems fitting therefore that Dean’s grandfather Cyril inspired the most significant domestic victory of his career.

Dean’s triumph in the 2007 Lincoln GP is immortalised in a series of photographs by Larry Hickmott, whose Brother UK-sponsored website lies at the heart of domestic road racing: a frame-by-frame sequence from the finish line in Castle Square that documents Dean’s almost immediate transition from ecstasy to emotional overload.

To this day, he struggles to explain the sensations that overwhelmed him at the end of a gruelling encounter held in such poor conditions that little more than half of the 150 entrants finished the race. Dean won by a length from Gordon McCauley and only then after nearly dishing his chances by riding across a drain cover on the final ascent of Michaelgate and losing five metres.

“It’s a wonderful picture,” he says of Hickmott’s defining image, published on VeloUK.net and reproduced with Larry’s kind permission in this article: arms aloft, fists clenched and mouth open in a roar of triumph – “but it wasn’t about the picture. I always wore my grandad’s time-trial medal from 1939 as a pendant. When I watched the coverage on YouTube, it all came flooding back. I reach down, kiss the medal, go for the finale and win the race. All the emotions hit me at the end. I thought: ‘I’ve done it. I can’t believe it.'”

The Lincoln GP is an appropriate stage for a career-defining victory. First held in 1956, the winners’ list from its 61 editions is littered with British champions, notably Russell Downing, whose four victories make him jointly the race’s most successful rider. The course is equal to a Belgian Classic, with its flat sections across echelon-inducing fenland, a straight, wide road leading back to an historic cathedral city, a rolling section of strength-sapping ‘bergs’ and, of course, an iconic cobbled climb.

“Lincoln is about 35 miles from my home. As a kid, I watched the pros ride up Michaelgate when the Milk Race came to Lincoln in the late 1980s. I raced there as a junior in 1993 as a Team GB track rider and finished in about fifteenth place after getting caught up in a crash. It was one of the last races my grandad Cyril came to watch. A few years later, he passed away,” Dean remembers.

“In 2005, Russ and I came back from the Tour de Bretagne. We’d had a rest week and were both flying that day. We went head-to-head at the finish, and Russ beat me. In 2006, I was racing in Belgium, but in 2007, I’d come back to the UK to lead the Rapha-Condor team. I had a good start to the season, and that was the year I won the Lincoln GP.”

Click here to read the full article, or 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 via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify.

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