In-form Pinarello RT ace Russell Downing threw down the gauntlet for next weekend’s National Road Race Championship with victory in the Abergavenny International Grand Prix on Sunday.
The Yorkshireman crossed the line alone after a last lap solo attack which gave him the win by almost one minute, and it was his second victory in as many races following his win in Friday night’s Abergavenny Criterium.
Several attempted breaks had been quickly checked by an alert bunch throughout the 103-mile race, but the spoils looked set to go to an Italian rider who had finally managed to break clear. But Downing led a chase group and pulled him back, before continuing his effort and establishing his own solo lead while his rivals were left behind.
His attack came at the foot of the tough Pen-y-Val climb on the penultimate lap of the finishing circuit, and by the time Downing reached the top he was 28 seconds ahead.
GB Academy rider Peter Kennaugh (100 Per Cent ME) led the chase and managed to pull Downing back a little, but it was too late and the mercurial Rotherham rider crossed the line 56 seconds ahead, with Kennaugh taking second by ten seconds from Martin Ford (South Regional).
Downing’s control over the race and the way he read his rivals’ tactics underpinned his bid for glory, and was something he used to good effect in winning the Criterium around the South Wales town on Friday evening.
Downing’s Pinarello RT team-mate Malcolm Elliott, the former points winner of the Tour of Spain, had been active early on but was left behind as Downing made the decisive move, with exciting GB Academy prospect Ben Swift tagging on to his wheel.
The duo quickly pulled away from the bunch to ensure a two-up sprint for victory, which Downing won with ease from Swift. Alex Dowsett (100 Per Cent ME) took third spot after attacking off the front of the bunch in the closing stages, while Elliott took fourth place ahead of another GB Academy prospect, Jonny Bellis.
The field for the Abergavenny Grand Prix was one of the toughest Downing has faced so far this season, but he can expect an even harder task if he wants to repeat his 2005 National Championship victory.
Chris Whorrall wins Tom Simpson Memorial
Meanwhile, Team Isle of Man’s Chris Whorrall boosted his points tally in the National Junior Road Race Series when he won the Tom Simpson Memorial Grand Prix at Harworth, North Nottinghamshire, on Sunday.
Previously 13th with 47 points in the season-long competition, Whorrall took 60 points courtesy of his victory in Harworth, home town of Tom Simpson, the former professional who died during the 1967 Tour de France on the Mont Ventoux.
Whorrall held off David Nichols (Glendene CC) for victory by five seconds, while Bikinmotion CC’s Will Jansen completed the podium, just inches behind Nichols.
The Junior Series continues this weekend with the CC Giro circuit races at Curborough, Staffordshire, on Saturday.
Kit Gilham likes it Not So Lumpy
And in the Not So Lumpy Road Race at Longridge, Lancashire, elite rider Kit Gilham (Kinesis UK) won by three seconds from Richard Kent (Science in Sport) on Sunday.
Gilham, the King of the Mountains winner at this year’s FBD Insurance Ras in Ireland, edged ahead at the end of a tough 122-kilometre race, and while Kent was just three seconds further back James Moss (MTS Inkland) was 1-40 behind in third spot....