Number 9: Russell Downing
Last year’s position: 7
Russell Downing did not get a chance to ride one of the three grand tours this season, something that should be put right next year.
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But Downing proved that at the top level, he can win races in the right circumstances. While most of British Cycling’s eyes were focused on the track World Championships in Copenhagen, news came through that Downing had won the morning stage of the Criterium International at Porto-Vecchio on the island of Corsica.
He beat Michael Albasini and Pierrick Fedrigo in the dash for the line. He wasn’t Team Sky’s first victor but he was the first British rider to win in their colours. (Later that day, David Millar won the time trial too).
Downing was by Ben Swift’s side when he won the Tour of Picardie, using his experience to work with his young team-mate and keep him in the hunt.
Then in the summer, while Team Sky were recovering from a difficult Tour de France, Downing popped up at the Tour de Wallonie in Belgium and won it by taking the final stage.
Cycling Weekly’s Top British Riders of 2010 advent calendar: We will reveal one rider per day behind the virtual doors of our sparkly advent calendar from Wednesday December 1 to Christmas Eve, Friday December 24. The top eight will then be revealed in Cycling Weekly magazine’s final issue of the year, which will be in the shops on December 30 2010.