What I’ve learnt: Dean Downing

“I feel more tired as a manager, not a rider. There is so much more to think about.”

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Yorkshire born Dean Downing, 41, has proven himself as the ideal man to steer the ‘Men in Black’ through a fearsome five weeks of late nights and non-stop racing.  Brother of Russell Downing and one of Britains most decorated domestic stars.  He took on his new role as team manager for JLT Condor, having once been a rider for the squad, he has over 60 professional victories to his name. 

Words: Claire Beaumont/Dean Downing  Images: Angus Sung

Let’s get the facts out of the way; we are nine races down with only a finale of the Tour Series to go. JLT Condor p/b Mavic have dominated this year’s event. With a rider from the squad taking every win available, a nine race winning streak. It is unprecedented, it has never been done before and it hasn’t been easy explains Dean. “I don’t miss it. I see the riders’ faces and I think, oooh, that looks hard.”

Rewind to the Isle of Man, Dean was at the helm from round one. “It was a really fast circuit. We went round the course and were excited to see it would be a quick race.”

I get just as nervous, every race even though I’m not riding. I was nervous going into round one. John Herety was there but he left me to it. So I got the guys to go round the circuit and pin point exactly what lines to be on and where they need to be. The first round included a time trial, it was really crucial we got it spot on. And they did!

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My worst round was in Edinburgh. It started raining on the start line. Graham Briggs predicted it and let more pressure of out his tyres, he was really confident in the rain. There were crashes and punctures. Alex and Jon were injured in crashes. Poor Graham he couldn’t savour the win, I shouted at him to keep sprinting and he did it for three laps to maximise the time gap so we could still take second team.

Good cop, bad cop. I think I’ve become the good cop in this story. I think that’s the style of management John Herety and I have. I’ve learnt so much from him, especially about planning. I approach the riders differently because only two seasons ago I was racing this stuff. I have been enjoying being a manager.

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I feel more tired as a manager, not a rider. All the extra things a manager has to do. Logistics, timing, looking after six riders.  Ensuring their nutrition is right. They eat late, you can’t sleep. I’ve had good luck then my head in my hands and then we get good luck again. All in the space of thirty minutes.

You think you know what happened in the race, but then you watch the highlights. I make the riders watch the highlights. Usually we watch together. In Aberystwyth, Mouldy [Jon Mould] was at the back and Madison Genesis were on the front stringing it out. Jon didn’t realise that was what was happening. It is good to see where your tactics are and aren’t working.

When people get down I’m the one who has to bring them up. After Redditch spirits were low, we had won but also lost points in the team result. Ed Clancy came into the squad with Ali Slater. It is good having new people to come in. I got Ali and Alex [Frame] to ensure they went to the front, as it was wet. This way they could take their own lines.

Talking about the race as a team is the best way to bond. We sit down and talk it through. We have talk alittle about bad luck but then straight onto focusing on what we will do at the next round. We talk about what we can control and the positives. Especially on hard circuits like Durham.

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The final rounds of the men and women’s competitions take place in Portsmouth on Thursday evening as the series returns to the South Coast city for the first time since 2010.

Elite mens race will begin at 2000 from the Guildhall.

 

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