The Team Sky professional Alex Dowsett has suffered a broken elbow racing in Belgium over the weekend – but didn’t know he’d injured himself that badly until he driven the four hours back to his home on Sunday evening!
Gordon Wiseman writes … The three stage “Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen” should have been tailor-made for Dowsett’s abilities as it opened with a 7km prologue that was a very simple “out and back” route along the Belgian coast.
“It was just like a typical British club time trial course albeit a little shorter” Alex said, describing the course soon after he’d set what proved to be the 12th fastest time of the day, just 17 seconds behind that of stage winner Michal Kwiatkowski. “Running pretty much parallel to the coast, you literally went up on side of the road to the turn and back again”.
“I’m fairly pleased with my own effort, it wasn’t a bad ride. There was a tail wind out and, thinking about the way I tackled the course and looking at my figures, I think I probably over-cooked it on that leg and suffered a bit on the return. The good thing is that you live and learn and I’ll take that into account next time. But I know I put out all I had.”
The outcome of the stage was really determined by the running order as there was a significant change in the wind direction that favoured the riders going off in the middle group.“That sort of thing is disappointing but I guess there’s really nothing you can do about it. The wind turned about 90 degrees so that meant the middle runners didn’t have either a head or tail wind to contend with. But that said, stage winner Kwiatkowski still did a really special ride”.
With 10 second time bonuses on offer to the winner of the remaining stages, even though he was 17 seconds down after stage one, having completed the first stage Alex still wasn’t discounting a chance at the overall.
“We’ve got all to play for with Mick Rogers” – Dowsett’s Sky team mate and former World Time Trial champion – “sitting in 8th place and we’ve got Swifty to go for the sprints if the stages come down to bunch finishes. But this is definitely a race I could go for”.
Things didn’t go as well as Dowsett or Team Sky hoped for on the second 182km stage and although Alex moved up into the top ten overall after working with the team to close the gap so Swift could contest the sprint, there were no winner’s bouquets on display on the Team Sky dinner table that evening.
The closing 187km stage was definitely lined up for those riders contesting the overall result but Dowsett never saw more than around 130kms before disaster struck.
“We were on one of the inevitable cobbled sections with about 50km to go and I was riding behind Leif Hoste” one of Belgium’s most experienced riders. “He went sideways and off and I rode over his legs before falling on my hip and elbow. I had to pack there and then and although I knew it was a big hit, after the race I felt well enough to drive home.
“It was a four hour journey home and although my car is an automatic, with all the driving it got steadily worse. It was particularly bad when I had to fill up the tank. When I got in, my sister took me to A&E and that was that. The X-ray clearly shows a break”.
Because of his haemophilia, Dowsett was later transferred to the Royal London hospital where they are used to treating his condition.
Having fallen and badly bruised his ankle mid-week when out training on his mountain bike, Alex is certainly going through an unlucky spell but knows things could have been worse. “At least with it being my elbow this time I can maintain my fitness on the turbo – and that’s where the real pain will really kick-in” he later joked, trying to lighten his mood.