Recycling.co.uk / MG X-Power / Litespeed
recycling.co.uk / MG XPower / Litespeed's Russell 'Fonzy' Downing yesterday took his first major win in the colour's of British Road Champion, winning the Havant International Grand Prix in Hampshire. To complete a fantastic day for the team Rob 'Sharmanator' Sharman took the overall lead in the yearlong national road series with just one race to go after finishing in 5th place.
Recycling dominated the event, which was held up several times for safety reasons. Fortunately after some long negotiations between the event organisers and the police the race was shortened to 120km and confined to one 15km circuit.
Once the race had resumed an early break went clear that contained around nine riders, with Recycling boys Russell and Dean Downing, Robin Sharman and Chris Newton in attendance.
In the last few laps Newton was one of the main driving forces in the break and after applying some pressure on one of the climbs the lead group was whittled down to just five, with Russell and Sharman making the split together with Yanto Barker (Wales) and Mark Lovett (Planet X).
As the race reached the final kilometres Barker attacked with Russell the only rider to join him, and it was these two who came into the finish alone. Barker led the sprint out but Russell was just too strong, coming round the Welsh International to win by half a wheel.
Newton came in alone to grab a well-deserved 3rd place with Sharman coming in just behind Lovett for 5th, whose teammate the 24-year-old overtook to take the overall lead in the series after Tanner had missed the winning break.
After the race Russell Downing was naturally delighted with his 2nd win in a row in the race and his 3rd victory in total, following his win in 1999. "I came here to win, to win this race again is fantastic. All credit to the organisers for speaking to the police and putting it back on, because when they stopped us for a 2nd time I thought we would all be going back to the changing rooms."
And with the Tour of Britain just two weeks away the 26-year-old said: "It's good to have a major win with the National Champion's jersey on my back. I'm looking forward to the Tour of Britain now; this is good preparation for that. To ride your own national tour with the jersey on your back is going to be amazing, I definitely want a stage there, that'll top my season then, I can retire after that" he laughed.
1. Russell Downing - Recycling.co.uk
2. Yanto Barker - Wales/Team DFL
3. Chris Newton - Recycling.co.uk
4. Mark Lovatt - Planet X
5. Rob Sharman - Recycling.co.uk
6. Dean Downing - Recycling.co.uk
7. Marius Wiesika - Team Nippo
8. Matt Stephens - Sigma Sport
9. Evan Oliphant - Scotland/Recycling.co.uk
10. Ben Greenwood - North West Divs
11. Kevin Dawson - Planet X
12. Liam Killeen - Specialized Factory Racing
Some pictures here
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