Richard Fidler talks sport with Russell Downing

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Russell Downing, aged 34, from Rotherham is one of Britain’s most popular cyclists. After being part of the Tour of Britain winning team he has just signed a two-year contract with NetApp-Endura, which will see him return to cycling’s most glamorous races.

What have you been doing today?

Today I have been training for a four hours and then went to Garden Room Ltd cafe for a coffee and cake...

Then I’ve been flat out like a lizard working on my computer organising our annual charity dinner for my ‘Out Of The Saddle’ team on October 20 at the Carlton Park Hotel in Rotherham.

Who is your inspiration and why?

Chris Walker has been a big inspiration to me as a cyclist because I remember watching him racing as a kid.

He was a local hero and it’s him who gave me the big push to become a professional bike rider, and quit working to do this.

Cheers man.

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

None really. Sportsmen and women are a different type of person.

What’s your favourite other sport?

Moto GP.

Who is the most famous person in your phone?

The most famous person in my phone is probably me! I did once have the number of Moto GP legend Valentino Rossi, but I lost it.

When was the last time you cried?

Last time I cried was probably last night pulling my boxers off that were stuck to my wounds from crashing at the Tour of Britain. Ouch.

Who or what are you most proud of?

Being a pro for 15 years or so with all the ups and downs of my career. And I’m still fighting.

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

You can never stop learning so advice is always great. And never stop listening.

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

I didn’t know I was good at anything... I loved cycling from a young age so that’s all that matters...

I’d be a bike rider if it wasn’t my profession so it’s a bonus .

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

My iPhone. I’d be lost without it.

What is the most nervous you’ve ever been?

Not sure I can remember. It was probably at the start of the Giro d’Italia last year. I’d dreamt of riding it all my life and it was happening. But a quick pinch and I was off!

Do you ever doubt yourself?

Loads, yeah. No matter how hard you train and race there’s always a little doubt but you soon put it to back of your mind. I’m only human.

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

They’re great for the free promotion of cycling and other businesses.

How do you relax away from sport?

I don’t relax much. I’m bonkers, but I try to relax in my family life and with our crazy dog Enzo... the beast.

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

It was Egypt. We went to Sharm El Sheikh. I wouldn’t go again. Been there, done that.

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

I don’t cook very often. My girlfriend Lisa does all that she’s an awesome cook, but if I had to it would have to be some pasta dish. Spaghetti bolognese or something.

What was the last book you read?

I’ll be honest. I can’t remember as I don’t read very often. It was probably Mr Tom. Great man, great read.

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

I’d like to be a Moto GP rider. It looks crazy fun with little less hard training than cycling.

Tell our readers in your own words why you think we’re interested in interviewing you?

I honestly don’t know why you want to interview me. Maybe you couldn’t find anyone else. I’m not sure on this one, hopefully people will like my answers. If not I’ll get my coat, eh?

Favourite TV programme?

Grand Designs or any house programmes.