Russell Downing slumped in the seat in the Candi TV van after winning the sprint and could hardly believe what he’d done.

He has won other big sprints and other big races against some of the best in the peloton but this win was surely his biggest. Not only because of how he did it, but what it could mean for his future.

“It went with four kilometres to go. I could hear Stuey (O’Grady) on the radio shouting at his man to go. Saxo Bank had two there and I so jumped across to them. After that it was it game over. I think everyone was legless from gassing it on the climb” he told Cycling Weekly.

“The Joker rider got a run out of the corner and then Saxo Bank took it up. I was second wheel and then one of their guys came over me as if he was leading him out. I jumped on him but he died but I had the rhythm and so I just hit him from about 400 metres out. I was trying to wait but I had the feeling the speed was there, so I went for it. It was perfect.”

Many believe Downing deserves a place in Team Sky in 2010. He refuses to comment on his chances but Cycling Weekly understands there have been talks. However the Team Sky management has yet to commit and sign him.

“I’ve been knocking on the doors for years now. I was good here last year, I was good at the Tour of Britain and at the worlds. I was bit peeved to still be racing in Britain this year but we’ve had a good year. It’s a good reward for the team and for myself,” is all Downing says. 

His volcanic boss Phil Griffiths is not so diplomatic. He was almost in tears in Waterford and punched the air after the finish. It was a big win for Downing and big win for Griffiths’ Canti TV team.

Griffiths called on Team Sky to sign Downing after he was the only Brit to finish the world road race championships last year in Varese. Now he is even more convinced Downing deserves a place at Team Sky in 2010.

“Russell is world class. He won a stage last year and was unlucky not to win overall. Now Team Sky better get their cheque book out,” Griffiths said, sending a clear message to Dave Brailsford and Scott Sunderland.

Griffiths revealed that Downing has not been selected for the world championships and he is not happy about it.

“He attended the recent training camp but they’re giving him a rough ride at the moment.  At the start of the week he was dropped from the final 11 for the worlds. If you get dropped from the worlds you don’t make the Sky team, so I hope now they’re going to really reconsider. This guy is good. But if he doesn’t go to Sky, I’ll get him a place somewhere else.”

Cycling Weekly tried to contact both Dave Brailsford and Rod Ellingworth but both were not were not reachable to reply to Griffiths’ comments on Friday evening after the stage.

  • chris armstrong

    Why is Russell Downing not going to the worlds.Last year i think he was our only finisher,i know he came home in the bunch alongside paulo bettini.he regularly beats most of the rest of the squad for the worlds usually he beats all of them(as he did in Ireland 2 days ago).I am a big cavendish fan but i know this years worlds course is a hilly one which will not suit him so lets send downing who can climb and sprint.I personally think both the downings have been overlooked for years a bad case of if your face doesnt fit i think

  • Ian Walker

    Why does Russell Downing never get a chance? I suspect there are lots of people like me who just can’t understand it. We can only wonder now how far he could have gone if given a proper chance with a continental pro team.
    Not to be selected for the worlds would seem a strange decision also. After being the only Brit finisher last year.
    Noe he takes on the continental pros’ in Ireland, makes the break and wins the sprint with ease on the first stage. He deserves a chance.

  • dodg

    How dissapointing if Russ is not selected for the worlds. Will most decidely give his all, most likely working solidly all day for the leaders, and still finishing strongly after many others have called it a day.

    Surely he is worthy of a place on the Sky team. Again will perform when the opportunity arises, he’s tactically very astute, and where necessary wil give his all for the team.
    Potentialy a much better bet than some of the names that have reputedly already been signed.

  • John Smith

    I love the passion of Phill Griffiths. Would be really interesting to hear GB reasoning behind leaving Russ out of the 11.

    Congratulations Russ, The Saturday chain gang will all be talking about it. We ride with him!!!!

  • SN

    If any British rider deserves to ride for SKY and also at the World Champs, it is Russ Downing

  • Tony Geesing

    It’s about time Russ Downing got the break he deserves, come on Team Sky give the guy a break, you know it makes sense!!!!