Downing wants a classic as he bids to take title

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RUSSELL Downing is hoping tomorrow’s British Road Race Championship is a good old-fashioned tear-up.

The 33-year-old from Rotherham has been in excellent form all season since leaving World Tour squad Team Sky to join top domestic outfit Endura Racing.

With several high profile victories to his name already this year he is many people’s dark horse to repeat his success of 2005 and win the British title.

The race is on similar roads - a 113.7 mile route which departs from the grounds of Ampleforth College in North Yorkshire - to his victory of seven years ago.

He said: “I’m in good form and I’m feeling strong. I could play it down and say I’m not one of the favourites but that wouldn’t be the case.

“If I didn’t think I could win it then I wouldn’t be as excited.”

Fellow Rotherham native and former Team Sky colleague Ben Swift is perhaps Downing’s biggest rival for the right to wear the red, white and blue hoops on their racing jersey for the next 12 months.

Downing said: “If I don’t win then I’d like to see Ben win it. Keep it away from everyone else anyway.

“I’m hoping that it will be a classic British race, which is different to how they ride on the continent with the World Tour teams. That’s the style of racing that I’m used to, and have been doing well in this year, so it will be an advantage to me if it’s like that.”

Downing finished second at Wednesday’s British Circuit Championships after leading out his teammate Scott Thwaites to confirm his sharpness.

“I’ve not done my usual hard training this week, so I’m feeling very good,” he added.