Russell Downing signs for Endura Racing Team after two years with Sky Procycling
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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Russell Downing signs for Endura Racing Team after two years with Sky Procycling

by VeloNation Press at 6:36 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Team leadership should bring bigger personal opportunities in 2012

Russell DowningAfter several weeks of contract negotiations with various teams, former Sky Procycling rider Russell Downing has been confirmed as moving to the Endura Racing team for 2012.

The 33 year old has long been regarded as one of England’s top riders and will now have the chance to compete as team leader rather than riding support for others, giving him scope to add to previous wins such as a stage in the 2010 Criterium International and overall victory plus a stage in the Tour de Wallonie the same year.

For Downing, the 2009 Tour of Ireland champion, today’s announcement is the result of a long period of contact with the team.

“I'm really excited about joining Endura Racing for 2012 after a couple of great years with Sky,” he said. “I've been speaking to Brian Smith [Endura Racing's General Manager] for several months now about the team and it's great to finally put pen to paper.

“Endura Racing have an impressive looking race schedule for 2012 and I'm looking to get back to winning ways, to help build on the what the team achieved in 2011.I've enjoyed riding at UCI World Tour level and have gained a lot of experience at some of the biggest races in cycling. I'm looking forward to pass that experience on to the younger riders on the squad.”

Downing’s two years with Sky Procycling have seen him ride some of the biggest races in cycling. He battled through broken ribs to compete his first Grand Tour this year, the Giro d’Italia, and while he had hoped to return to the WorldTour in 2012, he should have some good opportunities next season.

Speaking to VeloNation one month ago, he spoke about a lack of personal chances in 2011. “I spent more time riding for others this year,” he said, “definitely more riding for others. I think last year I got a couple of opportunities and I took them. This year I haven’t had as many of those opportunities, really. A lot of the time I have sat on the front or in early moves, and obviously in the Giro I was leading out for Appo [Davide Appollonio], dropping him into the leadout trains.”

Downing’s closest brush with the top step of the podium was the second place he notched up on a stage of the Vuelta a Murcia, plus third on a stage of the Vuelta Castilla y Leon. He was also fifth and eight on stages of the Circuit Franco Belge towards the end of the season.

Significant acquisition for Scottish squad:

Former Motorola pro Brian Smith has been overseeing the team for quite some time and knows that Downing’s signature is a big plus for the outfit.

“I would have loved to see Russ stay at World Tour level as he deserves but I think Endura Racing is the perfect team for him,” he stated. “Russ is a winner and I am hoping he can lead the team by example by winning in Europe. We want to keep building on our performance levels and to have someone with the experience and respect of Russ means I'm more than confident 2012 with be a hugely successful year for Endura Racing. The path from a Scottish club team to a UCI Professional Continental team is looking more likely now.”

The team is continuing to build strength and in 2012 will feature riders such as Zak Dempster (Australia), Alexander Wetterhall (Sweden), Alexandre Blain (France), Iker Camano (Spain), Jack Anderson (Australia), Paul Voss (Germany), Rene Mandri (Estonia) and the Britons Ian Bibby, Ian Wikinson, Jon Tiernan-Locke and Rob Partridge.

Endura Racing team owner Jim McFarlane regards Downing as a major addition, both in terms of what he can bring in results but also in knowledge. Describing him as an ‘iconic British rider’, he’s looking forward to seeing how he will help the squad grow. “His individual talent obviously adds even more strength to the team for next year,” he said. “But we're also looking forward to having his input in nurturing and developing young talent in the team so they can benefit from his experience.”

Endura Racing 2012:

Alexander Wetterhall (Sweden)
Alexandre Blain (France)
Dean Windsor (Australia)
Erick Rowsell (UK)
Ian Bibby (UK)
Ian Wikinson (UK)
Iker Camano (Spain)
Jack Anderson (Australia)
Jonny McEvoy (UK)
Jon Tiernan-Locke (UK)
Paul Voss (Germany)
Rene Mandri (Estonia)
Rob Partridge (UK)
Russell Downing (UK)
Scott Thwaites (UK)
Zak Dempster (Australia)

Team Associate:

Oli Beckingsale (UK) - MTB


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