Downing feels form returning

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Rotherham’s Russell Downing has his sights set on the Tour of Britain after returning to action this week.

After recuperating from a tough first half the season, which saw him complete the Giro d’Italia in May despite a spectacular crash on the penultimate stage, Downing says he feels strong following the finish of the Tour of Wallonia yesterday.

The 32-year-old of British-based Team Sky was the defending champion in Belgium but knew winning the title for a second straight year was out of reach. However, the race has sharpened him up for the Tour of Britain, which starts on September 11 in Scotland.

He said: “I’ve had five sold days. I knew where I was when I started the race in terms of fitness so winning again was never going to happen.

“The race was fast - on the last stage we averaged 75kph (46 mph) for the first hour.

“The objective now is the Tour of Britain. I was in really good shape last year but crashed two days before. I don’t know if I’ll be team leader or not but I know the race is something we want to win.

“Before then I’ve three five-day stage races and an Olympic test event in London on August 14.

“The course suits me so I’m really looking forward to going there.”