Russell Downing is hoping to complete the 2009 season by adding success at the Tour of Britain and a place in the Great Britain team for the world championships to success in the Tour of Ireland and his new contract with Team Sky.
The Candi TV-Marshalls Pasta rider was the star of the pre-race press conference in Hull on Friday afternoon ahead of Saturday’s start of the 2009 Tour of Britain. Downing has had a hectic time since winning the Tour of Ireland but has also been training hard for the Tour of Britain.
“I still feel pretty good. I had amazing form in Ireland two weeks ago and I haven’t done a great deal (of racing) since then but I hope the forms still there. It should be,” he said.
“In the past I’ve finished eighth or ninth overall but if you’re in the general classification, it means you’ve no chance of a stage. I’ll try and get in the move that decides the race but I’ll definitely be going for stage.”
He expects some high-speed sprint finishes.
“There are some teams with good sprinters but there’s no dominant team like Columbia were in Ireland, so the sprints will be a bit different and bit hairier. I’ll try and have a go and get the ‘old man’ Malc (Elliott) doing his job.”
Downing was quizzed about joining Team Sky in 2010. He has high hopes for his future in Europe but first wants to sign off with a successful Tour of Britain to thank the Candi TV team and manager Phil Griffiths.
“Phil’s been amazing at Yellow and I’d love to go out on a high this year for him. It would be nice to promote Candi-TV, Marshalls Pasta and Pinarello. A win would be a good reward for Phil,” Downing said.
“There are exciting times ahead and I’m going to be working hard. I signed at the start of the week and now I want to race even harder to prove that I deserve that place.”
“They said in the press that I was always in the picture for a place at Sky but I think what I did in the Tour of Ireland got people talking and got interest from other teams. I think the sealing point was when Sky and the general public saw that I really should be racing at that level.”
Downing took on and beat riders from Saxo Bank and Astana in Ireland. He believes he can do it again with Team Sky in 2010.
“I think I can win five or six races, either short stage races or one-day races and do a job for the team when I need to. I’m fortunate to have done both in the past. I can work but when I know that when I step up to the plate, I can do it.”
Asked specifically about the Tour de France, Downing said: ” I can’t win the Tour de France overall but a stage win, yes.”
Downing wants to end his season with a place in the Great Britain team for the world championships. The team will be built to help David Millar, but Downing thinks he deserves one of the nine places.
“I’d love to finish the season at the world championships in Mendrisio. I’m in with a shout because the team hasn’t been decided yet. The Tour of Ireland proved what I can do: It was hard and similar to Mendrisio. It’d be nice to hang up the bike after it and end the season there, before starting to think about 2010 with Sky.”
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