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|
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Thursday’s World Champs news
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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
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
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>>