The distinctive blue and orange colours of Holdsworth will return to the professional peloton this year after an absence of 40 years.
Downing and German former Bora-Argon18/Europcar/Wanty rider Bjorn Thurau head the Yorkshire-based squad, with Downing’s brother Dean bringing his experience to the outfit as sports director and performance coach.
Russell Downing, 39, has a long and distinguished career riding for both top-level international and British-based teams, including Team Sky (2010-11), NetApp-Endura, JLT-Condor, NFTO and the Linda McCartney Racing Team back in 1999-2001. He was British road race champion in 2005.
Thurau, 29, took the King of the Mountains jersey at the 2014 Tour de Suisse, and was third overall in last year’s Tour of Qinghai Lake.
Joining Downing and Thurau on the team are Yorkshire rider Jake Womersley, Italians Seid Lidze and Mattia Viel; Irishmen Dermot Truloc, Damien Shaw, Sean McKenna, Brian McCrystal and Conn McDunphy; Isle of Man brothers Tom and Leon Mazzone; and Australian team pursuit world champion Nick Yallouris. The latter will join the team after the Commonwealth Games in April.
The squad will have its first training camp at the beginning of February on home roads in Yorkshire.
The Holdsworth bike brand re-emerged thanks to Dave Loughran, who is probably best known for his Planet X brand.
“When I look back at my time in the bike trade it’s not the business milestones I remember, it’s not making money or passing sales targets; it’s the teams and individual riders we’ve sponsored, the successes they’ve had, and how many of those riders are still friends and even work for us now,” said Loughran.
“That’s what I look back on, and why I’m looking forward to seeing where Holdsworth Pro Racing will go. Whether it’s riding the Tour de France or winning the Cuckney 10, I’m not interested in the outcome, it’s the process and the people I’m interested in. That’s what motivates me, and that’s why I’m so excited about this team.”
Although the team’s race calendar has yet to be finalised, they are hoping to ride on home roads in the Tour de Yorkshire in May.
The team will, of course, be riding Holdsworth bikes, and wear Carnac shoes and helmets. The team’s 2018 race clothing has yet to be unveiled.