CYCLING: Tour de force for Downing and friends

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RUSSELL Downing hailed a successful week as part of the winning team at the Tour of Britain.

He rounded off an excellent all-round performance too with fourth place on yesterday’s 147.7 kilometre final stage from Reigate to Guildford.

The 34-year-old from Rotherham was a key part of the Endura Racing squad that guided Jonathan Tiernan-Locke to being the first home overall winner of the eight-day long race. Downing said: “We couldn’t have asked for much more apart from maybe a stage win.

“The aim was for JT to get the victory and he did. We controlled the race and were splitting the pack right from the first stage.”

Yesterday Downing tried to get the better of Mark Cavendish, but the world champion raced clear for his third stage win of the Tour.

“It looked like he (Cavendish) was letting Luke Rowe go,” said Downing. “So I started my sprint and he went with me. His legs were probably fresher than mine and I just came up a bit short.”