Richard Fidler talks sport with Dean Downing

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DEAN Downing, aged 37, from Rotherham has been one of the Britain’s leading cyclists since turning professional in 2005. The Rapha Condor Sharp rider is the reigning Elite Series Criterium champion - a stage of which will be in Sheffield city centre on the evening of Wednesday, July 25.

What have you been doing today?

Not much yet. I’m just about to head out training for a couple of hours then I’m off to the Manchester Velodrome to race tonight.

Who is your inspiration and why?

That has to be my wife and daughter. I met my wife just as I turned professional, so she has seen me at my best and my worst. Telling my daughter I won a bike race and getting a big hug is brilliant.

Which sports star did you admire when you were growing up?

Probably two. Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche. They were the best riders around when I was younger, Tour de France, Tour of Italy, world champions, all the classics. I’m lucky enough to have met and worked with both of them since I turned professional.

What’s your favourite other sport?

I love watching most sports at the Olympics, so 2012 summer is going to be great.

Who is the most famous person in your phone?

Mark Cavendish, but I think it maybe his old number.

When was the last time you cried?

When my wife’s nanna passed away recently.

Who or what are you most proud of?

I’m proud of quite a few things really. My brother who has raced at the top level in the world, and also of myself for giving cycling the best shot I can.

What’s the best piece of advice you have received?

Always listen to your body. When you’re not feeling 100 per cent healthy, don’t feel pressured to train hard.

When did you know you were good at what you do?

When I was 18 and I got a phone call from the Great Britain national coach asking me to go along to a training session/trial.

What one item do you take with you wherever you go?

Nothing really. But every time I race I wear a medal on a silver chain which my grandad won in 1939.

What is the most nervous you’ve ever been?

Riding the World Track Championships for Great Britain in 2004 in Melbourne. I was so nervous I had a terrible race.

Do you ever doubt yourself?

Yes of course, in the low times you do. But it’s good to have people around you to help with that doubt.

What is your view on social networks like Twitter and Facebook?

I love them. It’s great for interaction with the cycling fans.

How do you relax away from sport?

I watch dinosaur movies with my daughter, take my black lab Beau for a walk.

Where was your last holiday - and would you go again?

Majorca with my wife and daughter and yes the hotel was great.

Do you cook? If so what’s your favourite - if not who provides that favourite meal?

Yes I cook at home (sometimes) spaghetti bolognese is my favourite.

What was the last book you read?

Ned Boulting’s - How I Won the Yellow Jumper.

If you weren’t doing what you do, what would you do?

Maybe engineering or project managing on a building site in London.

Tell our readers in your own words why you think we’re interested enough to interview you?

I’m not the standard mould of turn professional at a young age. I’ve done it a different way where I studied first, then worked, then turned pro. Maybe it’s made me a better athlete, who knows? It’s definitely made my career last longer.

Favourite TV programme?

I don’t watch TV, my daughter rules the controls there.