Russell Downing prepares for national title defence

DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed team leader Russell Downing will return to the UK this week to defend his national road race title. The race will be held on the East Riding Classic course on Sunday June 25.

The championship will start and finish in the picturesque town of Beverley, Yorkshire and heads out over a tough course that will test the 131 starters.

The race looks set to be one of the most demanding and closely contested in many years with the best of an ever-improving domestic racing scene pitting themselves against overseas-based pros.

As well as Downing, former champions Roger Hammond (Discovery Channel) and Jeremy Hunt (Unibet) help to make up a quality field including twice runner-up Tom Southam (Barloworld), Daniel Lloyd (Giant Asia), young riders such as T-Mobile development riders Geraint Thomas and Mark Cavendish and old stagers such as Malcolm Elliott (Plowman Craven).

Another rider who will be keen to go one better in 2006 is Steve Cummings (Landbouwkredit), who Downing outsprinted for the title in 2005.

Downing will be supported by brother Dean along with a strong squad including Tom Barras, Matt Brammeier and Scottish climbing specialist Alex Coutts.

The DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed team will prepare for the demands of the East Riding route by taking part in the Beverley round of the British Cycling Elite Circuit Series on Friday 23 June against strong opposition.

The National Road Race Championships starts at 10.00 am on Sunday 25 June in Beverley town centre.

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