Road: Downing wins Eddie Soens Memorial

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Russell Downing won the 51st edition of the Eddie Soens Memorial after helping Endura Racing boss much of the race and take a 1-2-3 at Aintree Racecourse, Merseyside, on Saturday.

The experienced rider from South Yorkshire led Endura Racing with a number of attacks throughout the race, but the 33-year-old had the speed and ability to hold off even his younger team-mates. His team-mate Scott Thwaites took second spot, while Jonny McEvoy just held off Metaltek’s Marcel Six and four times winner Tony Gibb for the final podium place in a very tight sprint finish.

Earlier in the race, during a torrential downpour five plucky juniors held off the advancing elite riders, with Planet X rider Ryan Mullen doing much of the driving which helped them establish a lead of around 35 seconds at one point. But with most of the country’s big teams present, it was only a matter of time before they hit the front, having made up a seven-minute handicap.

Even at that early stage it was Downing who was at the front of the chase, leading out a 200-strong bunch in pursuit of the escapees. And once they had been swallowed up by the massive bunch, Downing wasted no time in stating his intentions and attacked off the front, taking another four riders with him.

Their five second lead saw them stay clear for a few laps but they were soon reeled in, and next to have a go at the front was Downing’s team-mate Ian Wilkinson, who went clear with eight others – including two Endura team-mates who helped build a lead of around eight seconds.

But they, too, could not get clear of the bunch, with four-time Soens winner Tony Gibb (Metaltek-Scott) sending his team of riders to the front to chase down the Endura boys.

With ten laps remaining the pace remained high, and Downing attacked again, this time with Simon Yates (100% ME) going with him and helping gain a few seconds.

With two laps to go it was all back together. However – Yates’ team-mates looked to be doing a good job of leading him out, with four of his team-mates on the front and Yates tucked in nicely behind. With 100% ME team managers Chris Newton and Keith Lambert watching from the pits the young British Cycling academy riders looked to have the confidence to take control of the race.

But at the bell it was Endura Racing back on the front, and their fast pace split the bunch to pieces with the majority trying grimly to hang on. On the line, Downing led by example with the win, just holding off Thwaites, McEvoy, and Six for the victory.

What they said

“It’s fantastic to come back from my two years with Sky and help Endura Racing get off to such a brilliant start,” said race winner Russell Downing. “We won the Tour of the Mediterranean and the Tour de Haut Var on the continent, and we've started our UK campaign with a great win."

“It can’t get any better than that! This team is full of winners, we've got 16 guys in the team who are all proven race winners and we’ve hoping to dominate the UK racing calendar, but also we’ve got ambitions for European races too.”

"Today we tried to take control of this race early on but all these teams are getting better, they are now riding as teams which makes it much more competitive, there are no easy wins anymore."

"The plan was for Scott (Thwaites) to come off my wheel for the win. Into the final corner I could see we were all up there, Wilko (Ian Wilkinson) led us out into the corner, Scott and Jonny McEvoy were on my wheel but I think I gapped them, we managed the 1,2,3 which is just perfect for us."

“Obviously we go to every race aiming to win, but to get a 1-2-3 is something special,” said Endura Team Manager Julian Winn. “We knew if we came together and took control towards the end of the race and executed the plan and rode as a team then we would take some beating."

“It’s very important for us to get a good start to the domestic season. We’ve had a couple of wins on the continent already, but domestic wins are exactly the same for us and just as important – the domestic scene is a big objective for us."

“We knew about Simon Yates and the 100% ME riders, he’s got a good finish, so we knew we couldn’t afford to give them any room and watched them carefully. Thankfully it all worked out ok for us.”

And second-placed Scott Thwaites added: “I’m really happy with the way things went today, It’s been a team effort all round. We expected to win it having the riders we did today, so it’s job done for us. We did it in a professional manner and showed just how strong we are.

“Obviously I would’ve liked to win the race myself, but it’s all about the team so I’m delighted. We’re all got good legs from so much racing overseas. We’re riding so well we all feel very confident and I think that shows each time we race.

“We’ve got a few good races abroad that we can hopefully get some more results in, and then come back to the UK for the first round of the Premier Calendar and take it on from there.”

For an alternative perspective of the race, read about top vet Giles Pidcock's day.


1 Russell Downing Endura Racing E 1:40:57
2 Scott Thwaites Endura Racing E st
3 Jonathan McEvoy Endura Racing E st
4 Marcel Six Metaltek - Scott E st
5 Anthony Gibb Metaltek - Scott 1 st
6 Felix English Rapha Condor Sharp 1 st
7 Tobyn Horton Team Raleigh - GAC E st
8 Dale Appleby Metaltek - Scott E st
9 Tom Barras Metaltek - Scott E st
10 Joseph Kelly 100% ME E st
11 David McGowan Team UK Youth 1 st
12 Matthew Gee BC PM E st
13 Samuel Lowe Hargroves Cycles-Specialized 1J st
14 James Ratcliffe Fred Williams Cycles 2 st
15 Chris Lawless Champion System/Maxgear/Kyklos 2J st
16 Dillon Byrne E st
17 Henry Hunter Teamwallis CHH Racing Team 3J st
18 Ryan Mullen Planet X 1J st
19 Harry Tanfield Teamwallis CHH Racing Team 1J st
20 Jack Anderson Endura Racing E st
21 Richard Walkerdine Wolverhampton Whls 2J st
22 William Penn Team MGD 1 st
23 Declan Byrne Cyclepremier Racing Team 1 st
24 Luke Ryan Team Toachim 1 st
25 Simon Wilson Metaltek - Scott E st
26 David Clarke Node 4 Giordana Racing E st
27 Julian Ramsbottom 3M st
28 Matthew Jones Team Corley Cycles/Blue E st
29 Chris Jennings Rapha Condor Sharp E st
30 Oliver Wood Sportscover Altura RT 2J st
31 Alistair Rutherford E st
32 Chris Sherriffs Team Bglobal 1 st
33 Evan Oliphant Team Raleigh - GAC E st
34 William Thomas Velocity Race Team 3J st
35?? st
36 Christopher Latham Champion System/Maxgear/Kyklos 1J st
37 Shane O'Neill Team Bglobal 1 st
38 Matt Higgins Node 4 Giordana Racing E st
39 Luke Grivell-Mellor Rapha Condor Sharp E st
40 Duncan McLaren Stockport Clarion CC 3 st
41 Duncan Moralee Sportscover Altura RT 1M st
42 James Newey Cadence Sport 1J st
43? st
44 Milan Sihelsky Kuota - Spinergy - GSG 1 st
45 Paul Johnson Wheelguru 3 st
46 Jacob Ragan Champion System/Maxgear/Kyklos 2J st
47 Ian Wilkinson Endura Racing E st
48 Stephen Robinson 3RT 3 st
49 Jeroen Janssen Team Raleigh - GAC E st
50 Michael Rawson Champion System/Maxgear/Kyklos 2 st
51 Jake Womersley Sportscover Altura RT 2J st
52 Tom Armstrong Mountivation Academy 2J st
53 Luc Hall Champion System/Maxgear/Kyklos 2J st
54 Oliver Rossi Rapha Condor Sharp E st
55 George Moore Cyclepremier Racing Team E st
56 James Sampson Node 4 Giordana Racing 1 st
57 Christopher Daddy Squadra RT 1 st
58 Adam Lewis Wolverhampton Whls 2J st
59 Matthew Pilkington Team Bglobal 1 st
60 Richard Binks Clay Cross RT 3M st
61 Ben Greenwood 1 st
62 Keiran Frend Node 4 Giordana Racing 1 st
63 Jess Wieckowski GWR 2 st
64 Richard Moore Squadra RT 2M st
65 Alistair Slater 100% ME 1 st
66 David Micklethwaite 3RT 3 st
67 John Holt Team Tredz 2M st
68 Jacob Scott Planet X 2J st
69 Brennan Townshend Team Raleigh - GAC 1 st
70 Michael Ashurst Champion System/Maxgear/Kyklos 2 st
71 Mike Salkeld Crosstrax 3M st
72 Tom Black Cyclepremier Racing Team 2 st
73 Owain Doull 100% ME E st
74 Matthew Smithson Clay Cross RT 2 st
75 James Gullen Metaltek - Scott 1 st
76 Richard Barnett Stone Whls CC 2M st
77 Hugh Carthy Champion System/Maxgear/Kyklos 2J st
78 Graham Payne R Whitfield Heating & Plumbing RT 2M st
79 Mike Cuming Rapha Condor Sharp E st
80 James Dyson 3RT 3M st
81 Richard Lang Rapha Condor Sharp E st
82 Matthew Bulmer Dirtwheels Cycles 2 @0:18
83 Philip Lavery Node 4 Giordana Racing 1 @0:22
84 Paul Belfield Stone Whls CC 3M @0:31
85 Jason Livesey Dirtwheels Cycles 3M st
86 Darren Biggs Deeside Olympic 4 st
87 Robert Partridge Endura Racing E st
88 George Atkins 100% ME E @0:35
89 Julian Pearson 1 st
90 Andrew Howard Liverpool Century RC 4 st
91 Daniel Stocchero 3RT 4 st
92 Simon Yates 100% ME E @0:50
93 Michael Smith Team Corley Cycles/Blue 1 st
94 Tom Dalton Bill Nickson Cycles RT 3 st
95 James King Mountivation Academy 3J @1:01
96 Hamish Graham ASFRA Racing Team 3 st
97 Luke Beswick Buxton CC/Sett Valley Cycles 3 st
98 Kieran Rees Team Tredz 3J st
99 Christian Braybrooke Velocity Race Team YA st
100 Matthew Gibson Warrington RC YA st
101 Francis Pilkington Bill Nickson Cycles RT 2 st
102 Mark Russell BC PM 4M st
103 Roberto Conte BC PM 4 st
104 Michael Knight Team Hope Factory Racing 3 st
105 Karl Freeman Alpha Road Club 2 st
106 Darren Reynolds Stockport Clarion CC 3 st
107 Thomas Lowe Kingsnorth International Whlrs 3 st
108 Mike Welburn Lichfield City CC 4M st
109 Dan Spashett Champion System/Maxgear/Kyklos 2 st
110 Mark Hammersley Wheelguru 2M st
111 Ashley Proctor Sportscover Altura RT 2J st
112 Daniel Harris Halesowen A & CC 1 st
113 James Rutherford Champion System/Maxgear/Kyklos 2M st
114 Scot Bullivant Rock And Road Cycles 3 st
115 James Knox Mountivation Academy 3J st
116 Matt Limacher Champion System/Maxgear/Kyklos 2 st
117 Harry Grey 1 st
118 Stephen Smith Vita Cycle Team 3 st
119 Michael Collins RST Racing Team 3 st
120 Andrew Horrobin Lune RCC 3M st
121 Stephen Leigh Team Bglobal 2 st
122 Stuart Reid E st
124 Matthew Jones New Brighton CC 2 st
125 Ben Dean Team Bglobal 1 st
126 John Wright Wakefield CC 3M st
127 ??? st
128 Samuel Harrison 100% ME E @1:20
129 Jamie Caldwell Cyclepremier Racing Team 1 st
130 Matthew Holmes Team Raleigh - GAC E st
131 Ian Bibby Endura Racing E st
132 Richard Hepworth Cyclepremier Racing Team E st
133 John Rigby Champion System/Maxgear/Kyklos 2 st
134 Gareth Owen Team Swift 3 st
135 Ryan Pike High On Bikes RT 3 st
136 James Sparling Team Raleigh - GAC 1 @2:12
137 Sarah Gleave Vortex 2W @4 laps

Points Competition
1 To be confirmed
2 To be confirmed
3 To be confirmed

Ken Matthews Sprint
1 93 James Ratcliffe Fred Williams Cycles

Category Awards
2nd 93 James Ratcliffe Fred Williams Cycles
3rd 143 Julian Ramsbottom
4th 192 Daniel Stocchero 3RT
Junior 172 Samuel Lowe Hargroves Cycles-Specialized
Youth A 249 Christian Braybrooke Velocity Race Team
Woman 245 Sarah Gleave Vortex
Master C+ 143 Julian Ramsbottom

British Cycling would like to thank the organising team, officials and everyone else who helped promote this event. Our sport could not exist without the hundreds of people, many of them unpaid volunteers, who put in many hours of hard work running events, activities and clubs.