Dean Downing led the way in Ireland as a four-man Rapha-Condor team tackled the Tour of the North.
The Rotherham rider?s return to form following a training crash in Spain in January netted two stage wins and second overall in the five-stage event, won by Martyn Irvine (Team Curran Racing).
Not to be outdone, team-mate Matt Cronshaw took the final 73-mile stage to Carryduff and secured the under-23 classification in the process, with Liam Holohan second in the young rider competition.
Team manager John Herety put Downing in charge of the younger members of the squad for the Irish race. ?It was good for me to pass on my experience to the young lads and they worked really hard. All the guys were in the moves all day,? said Downing.
Cronshaw?s final stage victory came in for particular praise from Downing. ?I have not seen anybody ride like that for a long time. He attacked with about 15 miles to go. We were trying to break Martyn Irvine, and thought we had done it, but he came back with about 25 miles to go. We kept attacking and the last attack was Matt?s and he just rode away. I think he won by about 40 seconds and I took the sprint for second.?
Relative newcomer Mike Rudling also impressed Downing. ?Mike has only been cycling for two years and he?s only 19. He was in all the moves yesterday and has been really good,? he said.
Downing returns to Ireland with Rapha-Condor for the Shay Elliott Memorial in two weeks time.
Result: Tour of the North overall classification
1 Martyn Irvine (Team Curran Racing)
2 Dean Downing (Rapha-Condor) at 31sec
7 Matt Cronshaw (Rapha-Condor) at 3min 40sec
8 Liam Holohan (Rapha-Condor) at 4min 58sec
53 Mike Rudling (Rapha-Condor) at 20min 16sec
British race calendar 2009