Downing back in the frame for Worlds and Team Sky

Russell Downing, Tour Series 2009, round 9, Chester

Russell Downing's victory at the Tour of Ireland at the weekend has put him back in the frame for Great Britain's World Championship team – and could even earn him a place on Team Sky.

The 31-year-old CandiTV rider won the opening stage in fine style before clinching victory with a superb second place in a tough final stage to Cork on Sunday.

But his team manager Phil Griffiths revealed to Cycling Weekly that Downing had been told at the start of the week he would not be part of the Great Britain team heading to Mendrisio for the World Championship road race at the end of September.

Downing had travelled to Switzerland to be part of a two-day national team get-together, but was told he would not be part of the nine-man team, despite being Britain's only finisher in the road race in Varese last year.

And with Team Sky being assembled ready for its debut next season, Downing looked set to be overlooked.

However, Dave Brailsford, performance director for British Cycling and team principal of Team Sky, has given Downing hope.

He told Cycling Weekly: "It was a great ride by Russell against top opposition. It has put Russ back in the frame for Worlds selection and as far as Team Sky is concerned, we are looking very seriously at him."


Who should ride the World Championships for Great Britain? Pick your nine-man team here

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Sports journalist Lionel Birnie has written professionally for Sunday Times, Procycling and of course Cycling Weekly. He is also an author, publisher, and co-founder of The Cycling Podcast. His first experience covering the Tour de France came in 1999, and he has presented The Cycling Podcast with Richard Moore and Daniel Friebe since 2013. He founded Peloton Publishing in 2010 and has ghostwritten and published the autobiography of Sean Kelly, as well as a number of other sports icons.