Feature: Dean Downing – A Question of Confidence

Brother Cycling’s indepth chat with former crit champion and much more, Dean Downing continues with part 7 of this serialisation – A Question of Confidence

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Feature: Dean Downing – A Question of Confidence

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

Alice winning the British Road Race Championship in 2019.

Like Dean (and Ben Tulett), Alice is a cycling sibling, sister to Hannah, her team-mate at Canyon-SRAM. The younger Barnes has shown greater versatility, excelling in a host of disciplines, including mountain bike, cyclo-cross and track before focussing on the road. Like her coach, she has won the Lincoln Grand Prix.

Dean was an eye-witness to arguably her greatest success. He rode with Simon and Sue Barnes, Alice’s parents, in the support car that followed her during her triumphant ride to win the 2019 British time-trial championships. He notes the contrast between her performance and impassive response.

“She raced brilliantly. I saw the times she was posting. She was so fast around the course but afterwards was so blasé, having done the ride of her life to become British champion. She’s not super confident all the time, and that’s where a strong relationship between coach and athlete can be valuable. I remind her of everything she’s achieved and encourage her to believe in herself,” he says.

Resiliency, so critical in business, is also an essential characteristic of the successful cyclist. In cycling, as with technology, experts build systems from which their clients can draw the confidence to perform. Dean’s detailed training plans and words of encouragement form part of a wider support network.

“I’m just a very small part of Alice’s journey, but it was pretty cool to see her win the nationals last year. When she won the British time-trial title, she smashed it, but her confidence is not always 100 per cent. She has a lot of people at British Cycling and Canyon-SRAM who support her, but she needed somebody to talk to, who could tell her when to back off, when to chill out, and when to be confident. So, in my opinion, that’s what we’ve achieved together.”

Dean first met his star client through the Tulett family and recalls a diffident character. Years later, they met at the Newport Nocturne, where Alice was supporting her partner Ollie Wood (Canyon-dhb p/b Bloor Homes). She confessed that she didn’t use her power meter; a revelation that further convinced him of her formidable talent.

He describes the younger Barnes variously as a “bloody brilliant bike rider” and a dedicated athlete who “hits all the numbers, comments and gets it done.” The success the pair have enjoyed so far might only be the start of greater things to come.

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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