DOMINANT DOWNING EXTENDS PREMIER LEAD
Pinarello RT ace Russell Downing grabbed victory in the final stage of the Plowman Craven Chas Messenger Two-Day in Buckinghamshire to boost his lead in the Premier Calendar Series.
Downing’s Pinarello team had chased hard for much of Sunday’s 140-kilometre stage as a three-man break - including Plowman Craven’s Tony Gibb as well as Pinarello’s own Freddie Johanssen and Glendene CC’s Matt Talbot - established a lead of more than one minute.
But with two laps remaining they were hauled in and despite several attempts to break clear again the bunch stayed together.
As they headed for the line it looked like Kinesis UK youngster Tom Last had snatched victory, but he was rounded on the line by Russell Downing, while Rob Hayles (Team Halfords Bikehut) took third behind Derbyshire rider Last.
“It went brilliantly, totally to plan,” said Downing afterwards. “It was really fast early on, but then a three-rider break went clear and we just marshalled it.
“We had Freddie Johanssen up there, and he just sat on and the rest of us were on the front of the bunch and pegged their lead until about two laps to go, when we pulled them back in.
“On the run-in to the finish we were all together, but with about 800 metres to go Rob [Hayles] attacked on a little chicane and I went with him. But then Tom Last attacked up the right hand side.
“I didn’t think I was going to be able to catch him, but I dug in and he put his arms up too early and I just got him on the line.
“It was a brilliant performance by the whole team. I never get bored of winning and I couldn’t do it without them.”
With time bonuses added, Downing wins overall by 29 seconds from Hayles, while consistent Team Corley Cycles man Matt Higgins holds on to third spot, with the same time as Hayles but in third spot by virtue of Hayles’ better placings overall.
Plowman Craven’s best placed rider on the day was Evan Oliphant in seventh, but overall he had to settle for fourth spot, 44 seconds behind Russell Downing.
In the Premier Calendar overall, Downing has 550 points, a massive 164 ahead of second-placed Evan Oliphant (Plowman Craven RT) who overtakes Dean Downing.
Chas Messenger Memorial.- Stage three.-
1 Russell Downing (Pinarello RT) 3-38-55
2 Tom Last (Kinesis UK)
3 Rob Hayles (Team Halfords Bikehut)
4 Dean Downing (Rapha Condor-Recycling)
5 Ian Wilkinson (Science in Sport.com)
6 Marcin Bialoblocki (Sports Beans-Willier) all same time
1 Russell Downing 6-36-35
2 Rob Hayles at 29sec
3 Matt Higgins st
4 Evan Oliphant (Plowman Craven RT) at 44sec
5 Marcin Bialoblocki at 1-00
6 James Stewart (KFS Special Vehicles) at 1-02
Premier Calendar (overall, after four races).-
1 Russell Downing 550
2 Evan Oliphant 386
3 Dean Downing 374