THURCROFT racing cycling Russell Downing was crowned overall winner of the Tour of Munster four-day race in Ireland after taking victory in three of the five stages.

Riding for the team, Downing finished 12 seconds ahead of his nearest rival, Ireland's David O'Loughlin, while brother Dean Downing was third overall.

Dean won the opening 52-mile stage on Good Friday while Russell was fifth, but victory in the 96-mile second stage on Easter Saturday put him into the overall lead, while Dean had to settle for second spot, just ahead of Eugene Moriarty.

After finishing seventh in the time trial stage three on Easter Sunday and losing 24 seconds to O'Loughlin it was back to business for Russell, who winning the 30-mile criterium stage from the Irishman to preserve his overall lead.

Finally, Russell scored his third stage victory on Easter Monday, sprinting ahead of Eugene Moriarty and David McCann to seal the overall title.

The Tour of Munster had been won for the two previous years by Kevin Dawson, the Doncaster-based British Best All-Rounder against the clock, but he chose not to defend his title, preferring to take part in the Girvan Three-Day event in Scotland alongside team-mate and fellow Doncastrian John Tanner.

But the pair struggled to make an impact, eventually finishing 11th and 17th respectively after the second round of the Premier Calendar.

Riding for the Planet X team, Tanner's best result was fourth in the final stage, but the event was dominated by arch rivals Malcolm Elliott and Julian Winn, who took first and second respectively for the Pinarello Racing Team.