For a famous cyclist who has reached professional highs with international victories, Russell Downing likes nothing better than coming back to the Peak District to take part in one of the region’s most prestigious pro-amateur hill climbs.
The Net App Endura rider is relishing the prospect of taking part in this Sunday’s Monsal Hill Climb, from 11am, on October 6, after he was inspired by the event as a child and has taken it on ten times with four wins including the second best ever time.
He told the event co-sponsors the Derbyshire Times: “The Monsal Hill Climb goes back along way and I remember coming out here as a kid. Monsal organiser Marc Etches, of Sheffrec CC, also does so much for cycling and charity that it’s wonderful to be able take part and see how the event has developed. I just keep coming back for the love of Monsal.”
The 35 year-old started his pro career when he was 19 years-old and has an impressive string of results to his name not least as a Tour of Ireland winner and a stage winner in Corsica’s Criterium International and he has rubbed shoulders with all the pro-celebrity riders including the infamous Lance Armstrong.
He also holds the second best time up the 675 yard sprinters’ climb in its 83 year history at one minute 18.3 seconds with local legend Malcolm Elliott still holding the best ever record of one minute 14.3 seconds.
He added: “Every time I have ridden at Monsal I have been among the top results. I saw Malc only the other day and we had a good laugh about all the good times we have spent at Monsal.”
Monsal will be Downing’s first competitive ride since he broke his collar bone six weeks ago in a race in Belgium and despite doctor’s advice to rest for another week he will be back in the saddle on Sunday.
His brother and fellow pro rider Dean, of Madison Genesis, who won the Monsal Hill Climb in 1994, may have mixed loyalties as his team mate and current Monsal champion Jack Pullar will be competing against Russell.
Russell, of Tickhill, near Doncaster, added: “This year there will be some great competition from the Monsal champion Jack Pullar, cyclists Graham Briggs, Chris Walker and others so it will be as tough as ever. It will all be about how much is left in our legs at the end.
“It will be the last race of the year for me after a long season from February to October, but it’s a great way to crown 2013.”
For further stories about Monsal Hill Climb, which is also sponsored by SimplyHealth and Pelican Cycles, and for results keep posted to www.derbyshiretimes.co.uk.