Downing vs Downing
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After losing the first round at the Bikeline Two-Day, Russell Downing has hit back with a quick-fire one-two to lead Dean in the Battle of the Brothers competition.

The Pinarello Prince is obviously in great form, and he marked every major move, including an early one that stayed away for several laps.

When the race reached it?s conclusion, the Rapha Raider had no answer to the attack made by his younger brother and he finished fourth.

JUDGE?S VERDICT He floated like a butterfly, and stung like a bee. That was Russell Downing at the Reservoir. If he was up against the ropes after the Bike Line, he?s certainly on the front foot now.


Russell 2 Dean 1

NEXT UP Rapha head to France to race this month but Dean will be back in time for the East Midlands CiCLE Classic. Can he draw level in the race that has been nicknamed the Paris-Roubaix of Pork Pie town, but that should perhaps be known as the Eroica of the East Midlands as the gravel roads and farm tracks bear more of a resemblance to the modern Italian Classic.

Just to be clear about the rules, so there?s no squabbling, only events in which both Russell and Dean start count towards the Battle of the Brothers competition.

Otherwise, it?s a bit like waiting till the other one has gone to cub scouts or violin practice before play with their Star Wars figurine collection.

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It couldn?t be closer in the Super Team Challenge ? Cycling Weekly?s competition to find the best British team of 2008.

Russell Downing added ten more points to Pinarello?s score when he won the Tour of the Reservoir at the weekend.

But Rapha kept their noses out in front thanks to Kristian House?s second place, which gave them five points.

John Herety?s boys are in the lead by a single point going into the three-week break from top domestic competition.

Battle resumes at the East Midlands CiCLE Classic on April 27 ? an international-ranked event where the stakes are even higher, with 15 points on offer to the winner.

Rapha are spread thin in April, with three French stage races. They are doing the Circuit des Ardennes (April 11-13), Tour du Loir-et-Cher (April 16-20) and the Tour of Brittany (also known as the Ruban Granitier, April 25-May 1). That means they?ll be running a split programme on the weekend of the East Midlands.

Plowman Craven will hope to be able to capitalize ? particularly as they are spending a couple of weeks racing in the United States this week. Garry Beckett is taking a squad to race the Redlands Classic (which starts today, Thursday, April 3, and runs until Sunday), the Garrett Lemire Memorial (April 13) and the Sea Otter Classic (April 19).

The Super Team Challenge is evolving into cycling?s equivalent of the Champions League ? only without the possibility of Barcelona coming in at the last minute and spoiling it for everyone.


1. Rapha-Condor-Recycling 27pts

2. Pinarello 26pts

3. Plowman Craven 10pts


Russell Downing wins at the Reservoir

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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.