Rotherham’s Russell Downing in top form at Tour

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RUSSELL Downing says he is feeling in top form as the Tour of Britain heads north of the border today.

The 34-year-old from Rotherham had his second top five finish of the race yesterday on the 177.8 kilometre ride from Nottingham to Knowsley. It is has left him in excellent shape in both the overall general classification (sixth) and the points competition (second).

He said: “I’m feeling really good. It was a bit frustrating on the run in because about two kilometres out I lost position slightly.

“Zak (Dempster) brought me back to the front but I was just beaten on the line for fourth. That’s bike racing though.”

Today’s stage is 161.4km from Jedburgh to Dumfries. Downing expects another sprint finish. “It’s a bit up and down,” he said. “But that’s mainly in the middle of the stage. It should be another one for the sprinters.”

Yesterday Leigh Howard held off world champion Mark Cavendish for the win. Boy Van Poppel of UnitedHealthcare leads the race overall after finishing third.