Talkingshop to a Grand Tour Stage Winner – Alex Dowsett


Gordon Wiseman talks to Tour of Italy Stage winner Movistar’s Alex Dowsett about a massive day in his career so far and that time trial stage win

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Gordon Wiseman Interview

A Postcard from Florence – Dowsett Takes Debut Grand Tour Stage Win

“Things like this aren’t supposed to happen to me” – Dowsett
Twenty four year old Alex Dowsett (Movistar Pro Cycling) put in the ride of his life to win the eighth stage of this year’s Giro d’Italia and in doing so, proved to himself and any doubters that his move to the Spanish giants of the world peloton was the best decision of his short professional racing career.

2013 Giro winner's podium Dowsett

The Chelmsford born rider had been brought into the Movistar line up because of his ability against the clock and, having already put in a leading performance to help the team set the second quickest time in last weekend’s team time trial, he’d been allowed to hold back a little in the subsequent stages so he could perform at this best in the 55.5km individual time trial between Gabicce Mare and Saltara.

But in setting his stage winning time of 1hr 16mins 27secs, an average speed just a fraction over 43kpm, he took some noticeable scalps including those of London 2012 Time Trial gold medallist Sir Bradley Wiggins, former Tour de France and road racing World Champion Cadel Evans and the new leader of this year’s Giro, Italian favourite Vincenzo Nibali.

With the start order for the time trial being set in reverse order to the then General Classification positions, Alex was the 38th starter on the day, but, blitzing round the technical course, he set a new quickest time at the 26km point while still managing to hold something back for the difficult climb in the closing kilometres that rose at nearly 13% in places.

Because of his early start slot, after setting his time then came the really difficult part; waiting for the nearly 160 other riders to set their time and wondering which favourite was going to topple his own effort.

As Wiggins crossed the finishing line some 10 seconds slower than Dowsett to set the eventual second quickest time of the day, the youngster puffed out his cheeks and said “I don’t believe it”, knowing that there was now the chance that he might win the stage.

Sat. 11 May 13 - Alex on his way to victory - st. 8 Giro

At last year’s World Championships, Alex felt that he had really moved forward as a rider, learning more about how to judge his ride in a time trial and that his success at the Giro built on his experiences at the Worlds.

“I went out super easy and rode into the stage. I upped my wattage on the climbs but then kicked back over the top of each climb before building the power again on the descents and then attacking the flat sections. It was really well balanced but most importantly, it worked!”

Alex also explained how the team had responded to his win. “They are really very very happy. They’ve been very good to me in allowing me to hold back a bit in the first week of the race and now I’ve won the stage I feel I’ve repaid their faith in me. We had champagne to celebrate my win, they’ve just all been so great”.

“The other guys have also been really made up for me. Bradley came into the changing tent to find me, shook my hand and said ‘well done’. Others who I’ve grown up with like Taylor Phinney and Jesse Sergent who I rode with in 2010 at Trek – Livestrong, have also been over the moon for me”.


In the run up to the Giro, did Alex feel that he was building up form that would perhaps be good enough to win a stage? He didn’t necessarily think his condition was going to be that good but admitted “In a club time trial the day before I flew out to Italy, the conditions weren’t great and I wasn’t using my best wheels so although I didn’t set my fastest time, my watts were the best ever so I knew I was going well”.

The significance of winning a stage in one of cycling’s biggest races just eight days into his first Grand Tour is not lost on Dowsett; “It is massive and puts me out there as a rider. It shows I can win stages at the very highest level and takes me up another step as a rider. I was just a neo-Grand Tour rider. I’m now a Grand Tour stage winner and part of a quite a small club”.

But there is an even greater significance that is very personal to Dowsett. And that relates to his being able to win a stage of a Grand Tour despite suffering from haemophilia, a condition that rarely sees the sufferer reaching such sporting heights as Dowsett has now achieved.

“My win is continuing to prove to young haemophiliacs and their parents that they don’t have to be held back because of their condition. Advances in medication now means that they don’t have to be wrapped up in cotton wool. And I certainly hope that my win proves that they don’t have to remain inactive”.

A clearly emotional Dowsett was joined by his mum Jan and sister Lois as the cameras focussed on him as rider after rider crossed the line, all unable to topple his time and whilst waiting to talk the winners laurels, could be seen breathing in deeply as he savoured the moment.

His parents flew out to Italy on Friday with his sister joining them just in time for the time trial stage. “We saw the end of the wet Friday stage” explained Dowsett’s dad Phil, himself no stranger to sporting excellence as he was a top saloon driver in the 80’s, racing Toyotas and coming second overall in the British Touring Car Championship in 1988, “and Alex had hit the deck like many other riders but he said he’d be alright for the time trial. He hit his elbow that caused him so much trouble last year but fortunately everything was OK.”

“When we spoke after Friday’s stage, he said that to get in the top ten in the time trial would be a great result, so to win as he has done is just phenomenal. Alex seems to be able to pull out results when he’s under pressure but today’s win was no accident. He’s pretty much done his own thing in preparing for the race but he’s very good at paying attention to the finer details.”

“After his ride, Cav came up to us and asked if we were enjoying the day. We had to tell him we were so on edge and we still had 2 ½ hours to wait to see what the final result would be. I don’t know how he’s feeling right now but we’re all knackered!”

Talking shortly after getting back to the team hotel and having started the recovery process with a well-earned massage Dowsett said “It really hasn’t sunk in yet. I’ve not had a moment for it to do so as since the podium, I’ve been trying to reply to all the responses I’ve been getting on the social networks; they’ve gone into melt down!”

“It’s just been incredible. Cyclists, non-cyclists, family, friends, just about everyone it seems. I never expected this; not in my first Grand Tour; not in my first individual time trial in my first Grand Tour”. And then modestly adding “Things like this aren’t supposed to happen to me”.

But being the professional he is, Alex was quick to turn his attention to the next stage that would see the remaining 200 competitors race over 180kms into Florence.

“It’s back to my day job tomorrow. I’ve had my day to shine and now I’ve got to get back to the less glamorous but just as important role of supporting Benat” (Intxausti, the Movistar GC rider) “as he tries to regain the pink jersey. Movistar are a GC team so that’s where my focus will be now. That and finishing the race in Brescia in two weeks time”.

That ‘day job’ saw Alex tackle a 170km stage into Florence, over 4000m of climbing and, yet again, in torrential rain. “It was probably my worst day so far. I pulled so much out of myself in the time trial and it seemed that 60% of the peloton did exactly the opposite so they were ready to race today so I took a bit of a beating! he explained afterwards.

“Because of the rain, because of my fall on Friday, I wasn’t the only one taking it slow on the twisty descents. There was a big group of us content with just rolling in at the end of the stage.”

“But now we’ve got a rest day. We’ve got a great hotel and the rest day couldn’t have come at a better time. I feel that, subject to not getting involved in other people’s accidents I can get through this, to the end of the Giro. But tomorrow? Plenty of sleep!”



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