Team Bike Sale
Downing finishes 2nd at Circuit des Ardennes
Russ Downing finished 2nd on GC today at the Circuit des Ardennes after a run of fine performances in the UCI 2.2 stage race in northern France.
Winner of the opening stage between Boulzicourt and Signy L'Abbaye, Russ was aiming to keep the yellow jersey by picking off some time bonuses on the 171km second stage which started and finished in Renwez. Rene Mandri and Zak Dempster made it into the first real move of the day and Russ then bridged to the lead group before taking the 2nd intermediate sprint of the stage before the peloton made contact with the break. Rene and Zak were in the thick of the action again and made it into a move which jumped clear with 80km to go, but this was reeled in as they passed 50km to go. Rutkiewicz (CC Polkowice) and Steensen (Glud & Mastrand) moved clear on the penultimate climb of the day and although Russ was part of a 17 strong chase group, they were unable to catch the two leaders and Russ came home 4th as Steensen took the win. Rene was awarded the Combativity prize for the day.
Sunday featured a split stage, with a 25km team time trial up first. Endura Racing are learning the art of the TTT quickly this season and piloted their Giant Trinity Advanced SLs to 2nd place on the stage.
The final stage of the Circuit des Ardennes again saw Endura Racing in the thick of the action on the 120km road stage between Charleville-Mézières and Sedan. Rene was once again in an early break and although soon caught, the move provided a springboard for a break including Paul Voß to move clear. As the stage progressed, Paul picked up valuable bonus second and was the virtual leader with just 35km of racing to go. However, as the lead group hit the lumpy back end, two riders made for the line just as the break was swept up by the peloton. Stéphane Rossetto (CC Nogent sur Oise) was able to hold on for the win as Russ Downing emerged from the bunch to claim 2nd place. Russ's 2nd place on the stage was enough to secure 2nd on GC and the points jersey too.
Click here for results.
Photos by Photos: Hervé Dancerelle | www.circuitdesardennes.fr