After NetApp-Endura move, Downing sets higher targets for 2013
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Friday, September 21, 2012

After NetApp-Endura move, Downing sets higher targets for 2013

by Shane Stokes at 6:07 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Motivated British rider welcomes opportunity to again ride top races

Russell DowningRussell Downing has said that he is ready to seize the second chance at top-level international racing he has secured, the Briton determined to make the most out of the Pro Continental licence he will compete under next year.

Downing was one of eight riders confirmed Wednesday as moving from the Continental Endura Racing team to next year’s NetApp Endura setup. He’ll move across in tandem with the sponsor, with the extra budget and the roster-strengthening both combining to make the German team a bigger player.

“I’m over the moon at getting another chance to ride big races again after the great two years at Team Sky and then the disappointment of not getting a contract renewal,” he told VeloNation.

“The merger will be great, I’m sure...we are two teams of great guys and riders going into one so I’m sure we’ll get on fine and rip it up.”

Downing secured a WorldTour ride with Sky at the end of 2009, with his Tour of Ireland victory earning him a contract. His first year with the team brought a stage victory in the Critérium International plus a stage and the overall classification in the Tour de Wallonie. The 2010 season was quieter, although he told VeloNation that part of the reason for this was because he was often called on to work for others.

Being told that his deal with the team would not be extended was difficult. “I was disappointed not to get a contract with Sky,” Downing told VeloNation back in May, opening up about the issue. “I did everything they said as I won races for other people. I just got on with the job, and not to get anything was disappointing.”

While Endura Racing has ridden fewer international races than Sky this year, he’s taken opportunities when he could. Three top twenty finishes in the Tour of the Mediterranean showed hid form was solid, as did tenth on a stage of the Tour du Haut Var. His first UCI win of the season came in the GP Ville de Lillers, then he took a stage, was second in another plus second overall in the circuit des Ardennes.

In May Downing picked up a record fourth win in the Lincoln GP and he followed that with victory on stage five of the Tour of Norway. More recently, he helped Jonathan Tiernan Locke to overall victory in the Tour of Britain while also netting five top-six placings himself.

With higher-level racing on offer next year, the 34 year old is psyched to get back into the top events again and to seize the chance of big results. NetApp rode the Giro this year and is aiming to again feature in a Grand Tour; that forms part of his ambition.

“I hope to have a good Classics season then look at a stage in a grand tour, if possible,” he said, setting out his targets. “There’s be a busy race program and a busy year ahead…I can’t wait.”

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