Great Britain?s Russell Downing was the pride of the British team and of racing in Britain after finishing the men?s road race in the main bunch, close to Paolo Bettini, Alejandro Valverde, Oscar Freire and Tom Boonen.

All the other British riders failed to finish the 260km race, pulling out after various laps due to mechanical problems, end of season tiredness and lack of good form. Downing, however, rode intelligently and impressively, fighting to stay in the race during the hectic and high-speed final laps.

His success may be lesser than that of new world champion Alessandro Ballan, but Downing proved yet again that he can compete against the best in the world, even after riding with a British team that competes mainly in UK. His result was a victory for ever rider who trains and races in Britain without the support of any of the full time Great Britain programmes.

As the final laps of the race were covered, the other British riders gathered on the bus to watch and cheer for Downing with Dave Brailsford, Shane Sutton and the staff. He was warmly congratulated by everyone after the race, with even his sponsor and supporter Phil Griffiths emotional after seeing his rider do so well.

Downing has been through it all in recent years and was more relaxed than everyone around him but he was proud to have ?done a ride?.

?When I started the race the legs felt good and was hoping to finish. I wasn?t sure where or what I could do but I?m happy to finish in the bunch,? he said.

?I knew my form was pretty good after the Tour of Ireland and the Tour of Britain and so it was about riding a smart race. I made sure I positioned myself well and when I went round other riders who were going out of the back, it gave me the confidence to move up and try and stay in there.?

?Hopefully the reward will come in the future but I?ve had an amazing season. I?m done for the year but this is a good ending to what has been a great year.?

ROAD WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS 2008

NEWS

Cooke: “We wanted to do our best”

Bettini to retire after World Champs

GB gunning for medals in under-23 road race

Millar and Cummings disappointed with TT result

Thursday’s World Champs news

Millar and Cummings ready for Elite men’s time trial

World Champs men’s time trial course notes

Pooley and Laws talk before Worlds time trial

Pooley to use special time trial bars again

British under-23 TT riders finish out of the top 30

Daniel Martin selected for Irish under-23 worlds team

British team heads to Varese with genuine medal hopes

Cancellara to miss World Championships

Swift a close second in final race before Worlds

Rob Hayles on why he’s not riding the Worlds

GB Women’s Worlds team confirmed

British Worlds team starts to take shape

Geraint Thomas called up to Worlds team to replace Cavendish

Mark Cavendish pulls out of Worlds team

RACE REPORTS

Men’s road race: Ballan solos home for World Champs win

Women’s road race: Cooke powers to gold

Under-23 men’s road race: Colombian takes gold, Swift fourth

Men’s time trial: Grabsch grabs the win

Women’s time trial: America’s Amber Neben takes title

Under-23 time trial: report, results, photos

PHOTOS

Men’s road race photo gallery, by Luc Claessen

Under-23 men’s road race, by Graham Watson

Men’s time trial, by Luc Claessen

Women’s time trial, by Graham Watson

Under-23 men’s time trial

2007 World Champs: Men’s road race

2007 World Champs: Women’s road race

2008 WORLD CHAMPS GUIDE

Preview>>

TV coverage guide>>

Brits in the men’s world road race 1998-2007>>

Brits in the women’s world road race 1998-2007>>

Brits in the under-23 world road race 1998-2007>>

Britain’s road world championships medal winners>>