Russell Downing on Paris-Roubaix debut: “Job done: got to the finish!”
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Monday, April 08, 2013

Russell Downing on Paris-Roubaix debut: “Job done: got to the finish!”

by Ben Atkins at 3:14 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Paris-Roubaix
 
Former British champion spends a hard day working for the team in his first appearance in the race

russell downingRussell Downing (NetApp-Endura) is still having new experiences in his career, even at the age of 34, and on Sunday rode his first ever edition of Paris-Roubaix. The former British champion was one of the key workers for his team, as it sought to put the likes of Jan Barta and Roger Kluge into a position where they could get a good result, which meant that he was to be working hard almost from the start.

“Grim,” was his cheerful one word answer to VeloNation’s question about how his day had gone.

“We had to work really hard this morning to bring that breakaway back, and after that I was gassed. On the first pavè section I was too far back, that was it, and I got through it all day after that.

“My first Roubaix, yeah, so not a bad one,” he laughed.

With NetApp-Endura among the teams to have missed the 13-man move that got away in the opening kilometres, the German team took it upon itself to bring it back before the first of the cobbled sectors. This early work put paid to any personal ambitions that Downing may have had as he came into his Roubaix debut.

“Pretty grim, as I said,” he explained. “After 40 minutes of racing we were on the front, pegging a break back that was going at bloody warp speed, so that wasn’t ideal. Then after that I was pretty gassed; I came round a little bit, but the bunch had already split. We were in a good group that kept working all day, and - yeah - that was it.

“Job done: got to the finish!” he smiled.

Downing finished in 115th place, near the back of the final group to be classified some 26’16” behind Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan). Having done his job for the day, however, the important thing for the 34-year-old Yorkshireman was to make it to the iconic velodrome.

“You’ve got to get the finish,” he said. “There were points where… after two hours I was dead, but then I came round a bit and I was with a couple of guys who I was having a good chat with; [Orica-GreenEdge’s Australian champion] Luke Durbridge and that - because we’d been working to being the break back - so we’d been in there all day.

“We’d been in there all day, so we carried it on all day as well!”

Having been one of Britain’s highest profile riders for several years, Downing finally got his big chance when he signed for the new Team Sky in 2010. The 34-year-old is clearly enjoying getting the chance to ride the big races at last and, despite one of the hardest days of his career so far, is still hungry for more.

“Glad I came, yeah,” he laughed as he rolled off to find his team bus. “I’ll be back next year!”

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