TalkingShop: Season Break over for Sky’s Alex Dowsett

Larry Hickmott talks to Alex Dowsett  who after a great season on the road for Team Sky, is  now focused on next year and a chance to progress even further in his career on the road. VeloUK caught up with him as he drove his Jaguar XKR to Manchester for the latest Revolution track open on Saturday night.

Reading on Twitter what he has been getting up to during his break, with track days in fast cars and such like, it’s all a far cry from his time in the GB Academy not that many years ago. Alex explained that whilst he has a fast Ford Focus as well, riding for Sky has given him the opportunity to lease a car that any 23 year old would love to be driving.

“We get a ridiculous deal on a lease for the Jags so it was a no brainer and I’m making the most of it while I can! It’s been unreal though and I still have to pinch myself every so often. In the academy, we’re living on £58 pounds a week in a house with eight other guys and now I’ve just bought my own place and I own two ridiculously fast cars (own one, lease one). And, I keep still surprising myself on the bike as well.”

Alex celebrating his first solo victory at Revolution last month. Having seen success as a pro, he has every right to celebrate but thankfully, is still as down to earth as he has ever been.

“I do have times when I wonder if it’s all going to go wrong just because things are going so well. I will be the first to admit that I have had my fair share of lows. Before I got seventh in the Under 23 Worlds, I thought that was that cycling career wise and I’d have to head for university”.

“Last year, I broke my shoulder blade and this year I’ve had an ankle injury which took me off the bike and the fans certainly only ever hear about our highs and not our lows. We’re well aware that like Russell (Downing) and Daniel (*Lloyd), that unless we keep progressing, it is not a safe job to be in.”

Those that read Alex’s tweets on Twitter, or know him personally, will know how proud he is of where he lives (Essex) and they will be pleased to know that he hasn’t escaped to Monaco or another tax haven but has stayed put in his home county.

He admits that he’s quite happy to stay here and pay the tax because he owes it to the NHS after a lot of help over the years with his haemophilia.  “It feels like I am giving something back to them after a lot of help over the years” he explained.

At the start of the year, at the Tour of Britain Launch, Alex is all smiles as he sees a Time Trial included in the route …

Six months later, Alex is on the podium after winning said time trial

The winter ahead …
It’s that time of the year when a lot of pros will start to get serious again with their training to prepare for the new year and Alex is no exception.  “I have had about four weeks off and this week my training kicked off again.”
“I have done a series of four hour rides on the bounce, nothing to strenuous but I’ll slowly ramp it up and then I’ve got a team training camp in Majorca over December and then I fly to Oz on the second of January for some warm weather training, with Edvald Boasson Hagen I think.”,

“We’ll be training for the Tour Down Under and then I’m staying in Oz afterwards before flying out to the Tour of Oman. So I have a month and a half of warm weather training and racing which is absolutely ideal.”

“Living near London, Alex finds himself training with the new World Road Race Champion Mark Cavendish on a regular basis and its far from an exclusive training group with lots of locals that Alex has known for years getting in the miles with two of the Worlds top pros. If that isn’t motivating to get out, then we don’t know what is!

“We went out Wednesday and it was quite a mixed group with Jason White, Russell Hampton and this winter we’re looking at getting some Glendene youngsters out as well. I think cycling is good in that you can do that. If they’re training with Cav, it’s like other youngsters kicking a ball around with Wayne Rooney. I know training with Mark helps bring me on and hopefully it will have the same effect with them guys.”

Alex on the attack in the Tour of Britain showing he’s more than just a world class time trialist …

Asked if training with his teammate for 2012 is useful in getting a head start on learning his role for the leadouts in 2012, Alex replied “he does give me some advice but he says you learn a lot of it on the road. Mark I know is quite vocal in a sprint and quite happy to shout from far back and he knows exactly what we wants and he’s not afraid to tell the team. As long we understand its him shouting the advice, and how he wants things to go, then we should work really well together.”

Back in 2005, I was out with the Rod Ellingworth’s GB Academy team with the likes of Mark Cavendish where Rod would have them doing lead out drills among the many skills he would teach them on the road.

Rod of course is a race coach with Team Sky and Alex says he does expect to be doing something similar on the training camps. “I think in Majorca, certainly on the December camp, a lot of the riders who are in the frame for the bigger races will see a lot of drills there. Last year we did a lot of lead outs in mock races. After all, we’re a bunch of guys on a five hour ride and I’m sure we’ll have some fun and race for something!”

Riding in the cold
As a professional, Alex is used to riding in the cold weather and says that he’s wiser nowadays about keeping warm on the bike and staying safe. “I always have a back light on the bike and switched on all the time as I think it’s important to be very visible. Hands and feet are the things to keep warm and a lot of people get lured into a false sense of using lots of tight layers but I’ve learnt the looser the layers the better.”

“If the clothing is too tight round your hands they just freeze instantly so I think you’re better off with looser clothing on the hands. Michael Barry taught me too that if your hands are exposed to enough cold, they will harden to them. I see guys like Adam Blythe in no gloves before anyone else and Mark Cavendish is the same so it must be a northern thing! I’m working on it though and doing like 20 minutes to half an hour with no gloves when it’s very cold.”

Asked if he wears lots of layers on top with multiple jerseys, he replied “Not really because Sky have this one jersey which is like wearing  a sleeping bag. You don’t need to wear anything underneath that regardless of how warm or cold it is.”

Alex in lead out  mode for Russell Downing who will miss Revolution 34 as he’s in South Africa training for a season with Endura racing.

Finally, when we spoke, Alex was arriving in Manchester for Revolution 34 where he’ll be one of the stars along with his training partner, Mark Cavendish. I remember back in his Academy days, Alex was regarded as part of the road section of the Academy but he does admit to love racing the track.

“It’s a buzz, especially with Revolution in front of the crowd and everything. It’s not very often we get to race in front of crowds like that. The last Revolution was the first time I’ve won a race outright on my own, something I have been chasing for years! I used to race in the Future Stars when Burkey (Steven Burke) was cleaning up and I was mid field ….”

It was so different at the last Revolution when Alex showed his road legs to good effect by almost lapping the field in one race, much like he did at the London Nocturne earlier in the year. For sure, Alex is the same person he was so many years ago when he rode for the Glendene CC except now he has the trappings of a successful pro career and that is set to get even better in 2012.

Look out for news on his success at Revolution 34 here on VeloUK and thanks to Alex for his time.

Alex at home on his TT bike on his way to winning the British championships which gives him the right to wear the Champion’s jersey in pro races in 2012.

Interviews from VeloUK

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