Feature: Dean Downing Indepth Part 6 – The Protégé

The Protégé: Dean’s victory at Lincoln provides an emphatic illustration of his mantra regarding the finish line. It is evident too in the rainbow stripes won by the most successful rider he has coached.

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Feature: Dean Downing Indepth Part 6 – The Protégé

Dean Downing was one of the most successful domestic pros in the modern era and is now a sought-after coach. Enjoy part six 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’s victory at Lincoln provides an emphatic illustration of his mantra regarding the finish line. It is evident too in the rainbow stripes won by the most successful rider he has coached.

Still only 19, Ben Tulett has twice been the world junior cyclo-cross champion. Dean has known him since Tulett was five-years-old and began coaching him in his mid-teens. Now a member of Mathieu van der Poel’s Alpecin-Fenix squad, Tulett’s coaching is handled elsewhere. The bond between rider and mentor remains unbroken, however.

“The first time Ben won the junior world cyclo-cross championships was insane, but the second time was even better,” Dean recalls. “We knew he could do it, but he’d had a big injury in the winter. He’d bruised his patella after crashing into a plank. Working through the ups and downs of injury is a big step in the coaching of any rider.”

Dean first met Tulett’s father Alistair while training on Lanzarote in 2007. The pair remained in contact. When racing in the south, Dean would visit the Tulett family in Kent and note the progress made by Ben and his older brother Dan (Vitus Pro Cycling Team p//b Brother UK). The boys each won national titles in almost every age category, but when Ben reached fifteen, his performances plateaued.

Dean swiftly identified the problem. Unstructured training and a passion for fast riding that led him to train with older riders forced him to take time off the bike to recover. Greater efficiency was required in his preparation. Like many young riders, he was uncertain how to use his power meter. The partnership, rooted in structuring Tulett’s training around his schoolwork, came to fruition in 2018.

“Ben won his first world title in Valkenburg. I didn’t sleep a wink the night before. I was so nervous, but I knew that Ben could do it. I knew his power data and for how long he could hold an effort. We’d been training for the course,” he recalls.

“Watching him win the world championships was quite emotional, but an unbelievable feeling. It was one of the best days of my coaching career, that’s for sure, seeing young Ben Tulett, whom I’d known since he was five-years-old, win a world championship.”

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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