PREMIER CALENDAR: BATTLE OF THE BROTHERS
After four rounds, the Premier Calendar is not so much a family affair as a one man procession.
The Pinarello Prince, Russell Downing, clinched his third successive event, taking both road stages on his way to the overall title at the weekend’s Chas Messenger stage race in Buckinghamshire.
Dean, out of sorts following his crash at the Tour of Brittany, was 20th overall, meaning a clear victory for Russell in Cycling Weekly’s season-long Battle of the Brothers competition.
And when your luck is out, it’s really out – Dean was held up by a tractor during the time trial at the Chas Messenger.
But he’s got a week to get things back on track. He’ll be hoping to repeat last year’s win at the Lincoln Grand Prix, although Russell also has experience of winning there. He took the 2005 race.
Russell is temporarily lodging with Dean and his wife and it’s questionable whether it’s all happy families in the Downing household at the moment.
And we knew it wouldn’t be long before one of them resorted to dirty tricks.
Dean recently bought a puppy and admitted last week that he’s been training it to run into Russell’s room and bark to keep him awake at night.
“I’m really happy having Russ with us,” he said at the East Midlands Cicle Classic, “but I’m paying his food bills. He’s eating my food and he’s winning.”
If Russell wins again at the Lincoln, what are the odds he’ll be sleeping in a tent in the garden next week?
Battle of the Brothers verdict
Dean’s on the ropes at the moment but it’s a 13-round fight and there’s a long way to go. At the moment, though, Russell hasn’t just got the better of his brother, he’s
Score so far
Russell 3.5 Dean 1
Pinarello are in the ascendancy thanks to Russell Downing’s streak of form.
Rapha-Condor-Recycling have been stretched thin in recent weeks. Injuries to Chris Newton, who made his domestic comeback this weekend, Dale Appleby and Ben Greenwood and a dual programme taking in three French stage races in a month have dented the edge of what is, on paper, the strongest team. Appleby made his comeback at the Chas Messenger too but Greenwood is still on the road to recovery after a recurring knee injury.
As Downing added a formidable 16 points to Pinarello’s Super Team Challenge tally while Rapha and Plowman Craven failed to score.
Instead, Rob Hayles took points for Halfords Bikehut by winning the time trial and clinching second place overall.
Special mention must go to Matt Higgins of Team Corley Cycles. He was just outside the top ten at the East Midlands Cicle Classic and continued his great form with fourth place in the time trial, second behind Downing in Saturday’s road stage and only lost out on second place overall to Hayles because of the Halfords rider’s better stage finishes.
There was also a harsh lesson for Kinesis youngster Tom Last, who would have been first in stage three had he not ‘done a Boonen’ and raised his arms too early, allowing Downing to pip him on the line.
SUPER TEAM CHALLENGE STANDINGS
1. Pinarello 45pts
2. Rapha-Condor-Recyling 27pts
3. PCA 10pts
PREMIER CALENDAR WINNERS SO FAR
Bikeline Two-Day Dean Downing (Rapha-Condor-Recycling)
Girvan stage race Russell Downing (Pinarello)
Tour of the Reservoir Russell Downing (Pinarello)
Chas Messenger stage race Russell Downing (Pinarello)
Chas Messenger stage one report
Chas Messenger stage two and three reports
Chas Messenger preview
Cycling Weekly’s Premier Calendar home page: All the reports and results