Dowsett Takes His First World Tour Podium!

Gordon Wiseman talks to Alex Dowsett about the Tour of Beijing where the British champion was on the podium in his first World Tour event when third in the PrologueChelmsford’s Alex Dowsett (Team Sky) picked up a superb third place in the opening stage of the inaugural Tour of Beijing and in doing so donned the Young Riders jersey in his first ever World Tour race. Just days after celebrating his 23rd birthday, Dowsett set a time just 24 seconds behind that of the newly crowned World Time trial champion and eventual race winner Tony Martin.

Part of the eight-man Team Sky line-up who travelled to Beijing, Alex faced five days of intense competition in and around the Chinese capital that was made all the more difficult by the choking Beijing smog. “That smog and pollution was really hurting my lungs a lot” he explained after the fourth stage “but I guess it’s the same for everyone in the race”.

The pan-flat 11.3km course for the opening time trial – that raced past many of the 2008 Olympic Games venues – well suited Dowsett’s strengths against the clock and his time of 10mins 57secs topped the time sheets for over an hour before he was pipped to quicker times first by fellow Brit Dave Millar and then Martin. “I’m really happy with that result and certainly couldn’t moan about being beaten by two of the best time trial specialists in the world at present” he said soon after collecting his Young Riders jersey.

Alex kept that jersey until the end of stage 2 but then faced the queen stage of the Tour of Beijing. The 162km third stage included three first category climbs, the highest of which peaked at over 800m and proved to be the stumbling block to Alex retaining that jersey for the rest of the race. “I hadn’t done climbs like that since the Tour of California” – that took place in May – “and it was a great shock to my system.”

“I simply wasn’t ready for that. It shows that I’ve still got some work to do on what is a clear weakness, my climbing. In power-to-weight terms, I know I’m in the ballpark, it’s just down to my technique” he candidly stated.

“It’s something I can work on especially if I want to be able to challenge for the overall in these kind of races. I guess it’ll be less time having coffee and cake stops and more time training in the mountains over the winter!  Unfortunately, I’m never happy unless I’m winning or helping a team member win”.

For the final two stages of the race Alex did exactly that, putting himself at the disposal of his team-mates as they pursued stage wins.  And although such a win didn’t materialise for the boys in Team Sky’s blue and black jerseys, he played a major part in helping Chris Froome and Steve Cummings finish in 3rd and 4th places in the final general classification and helped Sky to win the team competition.

“I was happy with my own result in the time trial but disappointed in the end not to retain my placing in the overall. It would have been cool to keep the Young Riders jersey in my first World Tour race but those were great results for the team and that’s just as important as my own results” he said after the race had finished in Beijing on Sunday.

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