Russell Downing

Russell Downing finished the Tour of California without a result, but with improving form. The Healthnet Maxxis rider missed out in the final sprint in Long Beach despite placing himself well in the finale, ?I was in seventh or eighth wheel and I started tussling with Bettini on the outside,? the former national champion said.

?As I was tussling with him, [Thor] Hushovd?s train came over the top and boxed me in so I couldn?t do anything. Then I went to go right and there was a clash of wheels and I got stuck behind that, so I just sat up and rolled over the line.?

With two team mates up the road in the stage-long break Downing was able to stay out of the wind for the 77.5 mile stage up and down the sea front in Long Beach, just south of Los Angeles. ?It was so noisy,? Downing said of the crowds on the route. ?I could hardly hear anything on the radio the crowds were that noisy.?

Charly Wegelius, the other Briton in the race, was full of praise for the event, ?it?s a good race,? he said after the final stage. ?The organisation is really good, it?s on a par, or even better than any of the big races in the world.?

?There was hundreds of thousands of people come to watch it, and that?s what cycling needs at the moment. If they can build on it it?s good for the future.?

The race was a more intense start to the season that Wegelius usually endures, but the Liquigas rider has already hit some good form, ?I was quite surprised with how I performed,? Wegelius said. ?I didn?t really do any special preparation for this race. To get in that break was good, and I think I rode well on the other stages. It?s a good start to the season.?

Wegelius now returns to his home in Varese in northern Italy, to start preparing for Milan-Turin and the Coppi Bartali stage race.

Simon Richardson
Simon Richardson

Editor of Cycling Weekly magazine, Simon has been working at the title since 2001. In that time he has written product reviews, features and news. He has covered the Tour de France more times than he can remember along with two Olympic Games and many other international and UK domestic races. Once an aspiring bike racer himself, he can still be seen at his club's evening races through the summer.