The inexorable Russell Downing soloed to victory in the Tour of Pendle on Sunday to decisively wrap up his second consecutive Premier Calendar title.
Finishing 40 seconds clear of Chris Newton and Rob Partridge, the way in which Downing won was indicative of the strangehold the CandiTV man has exerted over the Premier Calendar this year.
Dropping his breakaway companions on the final climb, Downing was once again imperious and did not need to wait for a sprint to exert his will on the field.
“I was confident to leave it to a sprint but you never know, anything could happen, so I wanted to hit them hard on that climb because I knew I was climbing well,” said Downing after the race.
“It’s quite a steep little climb with a few twists in it. It drags over the top and that’s where I got the distance. Partridge attacked first and softened it up brilliantly for me. Chris looked back and probably knew I was going to go but couldn’t do anything so I went and rode really hard.”
Downing made his move as the race came in to Whalley. Chris Newton escaped with Roy Chamberlain and Downing bridged across with Rob Partridge and Liam Holohan.
Heading into the final circuit, a final shuffle of the pack saw Downing, Newton and Partridge alone at the head of the field with 40 seconds over the remnants of the bunch.
Partridge was first to attack on the short climb at the back of the circuit; Newton covered only for Downing to surge past them both and establish a gap over the drag at the top.
Consolidating his advantage, Downing soloed to the line to finish forty seconds clear of Newton and Partridge to add a final win to his Premier Calendar campaign.
“We thought we’d gapped Russell for a minute but he ran at us and went straight past,” explained second-place Newton.
“I chased but just one of those little clicks just finished me off. So I kind of got a bit of a breather, waited and went for second place then.’
Downing, who wrapped up his second consecutive Premier Calendar title with one round still remaining, was full of praise for his CandiTV team-mates.
“It shows that training together and hurting each other together works. If you have been together all week you more than likely lay it on the line for someone you have confidence in. As I say, the team was brilliant.”
Tour of Pendle, 94.5 miles (151.2km)
1. Russell Downing (CandiTV-Marshalls Pasta) in 3-20-49
2. Chris Newton (Rapha-Condor) at 40secs
3. Rob Partridge (Halfords Bike Hut) at same time
4. Ian Wilkinson (Halfords Bike Hut) at 51 secs
5. Malcolm Elliott (CandiTV-Marshalls Pasta)
6. Mark McNally (Halfords Bike Hut)
7. Matt Kipling (KUK Kinesis)
8. Marcin Bialoblocki (Sport Beans / Wilier)
9. James Moss (KUK Kinesis)
10. John Tanner (Sportscover) at same time
Average speed 28.2mph or 45.13km/h
Russell Downing celebrates
Downing takes the win and the Premier Calendar