Downing downed on stage 4

British road race champion Russell Downing was one of several fallers on yesterday's stage. The rider hit the deck early on but was able to remount and get back to the peloton. "Someone just come across me," he told Cyclingnews after the stage. "I was in line on the inside and someone pulled him on top of me. The kerbs just came out a bit and I think he swung into the bunch. He clipped my handlebars and that forced me into a speed wobble. I was banging on the kerb, staying upright, and then the kerbs disappeared and I went down."

"It was just before the first climb. The doctor was cleaning me up and then I got back onto the back of the team cars at the bottom of the climb. So I just climbed it in the convoy, holding on to my position, and then got back on over the top."

Downing had cuts and scrapes on his left arm and leg, and so was glad that the day wasn't too hectic. "The rest of the stage was controlled, we had a guy up the road so that was fine. It was good to be able to ride in the bunch, I wanted to just keep the legs moving because I was a bit stiff."

"I didn't feel too bad but then coming near the end I thought I'd get involved in the sprint. But I was a bit nervous...crashing earlier in the stage obviously affected my nerves a bit so I decided to back off and save it for the last day. I am not a brilliant time trialist for tomorrow's stage, so I will make an effort but I won't be winning. Sunday will be a better stage for me."

When asked how he would fare against some of the big European sprinters in the race, Downing was hopeful he could do something. "It is all on positioning, that is the thing. If you get the right position, you never know. We will see how it goes."

Also in the wars was compatriot Jeremy Hunt. The rider hit a bump on a fast decent and his handlebars snapped, sending him to the ground. He suffered cuts to the face, arm and finger and was taken to hospital as a precautionary measure. However, Hunt was released and although his race is over, he was able to join his team-mates for dinner yesterday evening. He had been lying second overall in the points competition and was understandably disappointed to be out of the Tour of Britain. "I can't believe I crashed out of my home race," he said.

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