Alex Dowsett: Giro – “It’s about surviving”


Still in the Giro battling his way through the worst weather and the toughest mountains is Britain’s Alex Dowsett from Movistar, winner of the Giro time trial

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by Gordon Wiseman – Sunday 19 May – A Postcard from Valloire 

2013 Giro winner's podium Dowsett

After conquering the snow and ice covered roads of the Col du Galibier, like the other 179 riders still in this year’s Giro d’Italia, Alex Dowsett (Movistar Pro Cycling) could deservedly look forward to the second rest day of this year’s race but declared this to have been his worst day thus far in this three week Grand Tour.

Knowing that six final days racing stand in his way from reaching the finish of this 3400km epic, Alex is fully aware however that those final days will probably prove to be even tougher still.

“A mountain time trial, one on the flat, three in some really tough mountains and one really long day to go. It’s going to be really tough and from now on it’s about surviving but I really think I can finish this race” Alex explained to Gordon.

Sunday’s stage that brought the race to the end of its second week, saw the riders face 150kms that was scheduled to take them to over 2600m to the very top of the mythical Col du Galibier but the atrocious conditions that saw both stages over the weekend re-routed also saw the final ascent of the Galibier cut from the parcours.



For Alex, (second from right) its more about a fight for survival than pink! Photo:

But that was scant consolation to Dowsett who described his day from the warmth of his hotel at the bottom of the Galibier after he’d had time to thaw out from his nearly 5 hour ride in vastly contrasting conditions.

“A day like today meant that I had to do all my work for our GC rider” – Benat Intxausti – “early on. Me and Ventoso took him to the foot of the Col du Telegraphe and from there we just drifted back to the group of 50 or so riders who, like me, were just hanging on for the day.”

“Benat’s a climber and once he got onto the climb of the Telegraphe, well those guys literally sprint up hill. I may have been able to hang on for one or two kilometres but to what end? I’d only have been spat out the back, used loads of energy and still have grovelled up with the same 50 guys in the end anyway.”

“I’m not here to race up the mountains, I’m here for the time trials so on days like today I do what I can for the team then get into the ‘autobus’ to ride to the finish. The one saving grace is that those guys are feeling exactly the same as me.”

“Sometimes you see some of the guys in that group clinging onto the team cars to help them up the climbs but I couldn’t do that. That was something drilled into us at the Team GB Academy. You get to the finish under your own steam. Yes, it’s accepted as being OK by everyone if you’ve had a mechanical but not when you just don’t have it in your legs. I’d rather not finish the race than do that”.

The first part of the Giro saw the riders take in nine successive days racing with another six bringing them to the end of the second week making this the longest block of racing Alex has ever competed in.



Alex in a break during drier weather… Photo:

“I’ve done Qatar and Oman back to back with only a day or two between the two races but nothing as long or as big as the Giro. The weather has really been bad this year with the rain and snow but it’s also the length, speed, the toughness of the stages and the mountains that make this so hard.”

“It becomes relentless. You can almost become anxious. Will I be the first to drift back today? Will I be able to stay in the group? Every little acceleration hurts, sometimes you really suffer.”

“But all that’s doing is making me more determined to finish”.

In this second week Alex’s job changed from the early stages that saw him play a key role in his team taking second place in the team time trial and, of course, saw the youngster take his debut stage win in a Grand Tour.

“The day after my time trial win was really hard, my legs were just empty. That was a wonderful experience but in some ways it made my race so much harder. I came to the race with the sole aim of finishing. Yes, I wanted to do my job for the team and yes, I thought a top ten finish in the time trial would be great.”

“But having now won a stage, it’s changed everything, my priorities have shifted. Now I could quit the race as a stage winner; personally the pressure is now off me so that makes the racing even harder still”.

It’s been a really good Giro for Alex and his team so far. “The management are super happy. There’ve been three key stages so far, the team and individual time trials and today’s climb up the Galibier. We’ve won two of them” – his own time trial win and that of team-mate Giovanni Visconti who won on the Galibier – “and came second in the team time trial.”

“We’ve also had the maglia rosa for race leader, Giovanni in the mountain’s jersey and me in the Young Rider’s white jersey. And we’ve still got all nine Movistar riders in the race. It’s going really well”.

Alex can now look forward to the second rest day of the race. “I didn’t know what to expect on the first rest day. Some guys went out for 2-3 hours, some just stared at their bikes. I went out for 45 minutes, just spinning easy gears and I think that’s what I’ll do on the second rest day as well”.’

Eating and resting are two key components of rest days for all the riders in a Grand Tour but Alex also described another luxury he’s looking forward to. “The rest day was really strange. It seemed that the first time you got up, it was already 3 in the afternoon. But after my gentle ride, it was back to bed, to sleep, bed for a massage, bed to see the osteo and then back to bed again for more sleep. That what I’m hoping to do this time as well!”



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