Russell Downing will take his “wealth of racing experience” to Endura Racing for 2012. The Scottish Continental team announced Tuesday that it had signed the British rider who most recently spent two years at Team Sky.
“The former British road race champion joins us from Team Sky where he picked up a stage victory at the Criterium International and a stage and overall win at the Tour de Wallonie,” according to the team press release. “Much of Russell’s 2011 season was spent in support of his team leaders and he put in a gutsy performance at the Giro d’Italia in May where he rode with several broken ribs to finish his first Grand Tour.”
The 33-year-old turned pro in 1999 with Linda McCartney, and since then has ridden with iTeamNova.com, Recycling.co.uk, Driving Force Logistics, Health Net, Pinarello Racing Team and CandiTVs/Marshalls Pasta, before joining Sky in 2010. His two years with Sky were his only time at a top-ranked team.
“I'm really excited about joining Endura Racing for 2012 after a couple of great years with Sky,” Downing said. “I've been speaking to Brian Smith [Endura Racing's General Manager] for several months now about the team and it's great to finally put pen to paper.
"Endura Racing has an impressive looking race schedule for 2012 and I'm looking to get back to winning ways, to help build on what the team achieved in 2011. I've enjoyed riding at UCI World Tour level and have gained a lot of experience at some of the biggest races in cycling. I'm looking forward to passing that experience on to the younger riders on the squad.”
According to Endura Ltd director Jim McFarlane, “His individual talent obviously adds even more strength to the team for next year but we're also looking forward to having his input in nurturing and developing young talent in the team so they can benefit from his experience.”
Downing deserved to continue to ride in the WorldTour, “but I think Endura Racing is the perfect team for him,” Smith said.
“Russ is a winner and I am hoping he can lead the team by example by winning in Europe. We want to keep building on our performance levels and to have someone with the experience and respect of Russ I'm more than confident 2012 with be a hugely successful year for Endura Racing. The path from a Scottish club team to a UCI Professional Continental team is looking more likely now.”