Interview: Alex Dowsett’s Tour Hopes


With the Tour de France coming to Essex next year, Giro stage winner Alex Dowsett says “I want a part of the Tour in my home town!”

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Gordon Wiseman writes

Every rider in the Tour de France has to make their debut sometime and somewhere but Alex Dowsett (Movistar Team) is one of just a few who hopes to be have made their first appearance in la grande boucle and race through his home town all at the same time.

2013 Giro winner's podium Dowsett

It’s been known since the end of last year that Yorkshire would be hosting the first two stages of the 2014 Tour but, apart from knowing that the third stage would finish in London, little was known about the exact route that would be taking the 200 strong peloton into the capital.

Since then there have been leaks and rumours but last week it was confirmed that the roads of Essex would feature heavily in the 159km journey from Cambridge, past the 2012 Olympic Park and into Westminster.

And whilst no rider can guarantee a place in their team’s line up at any race – even where “home advantage” is certain to create even more exposure for that rider and their team – Dowsett already has both the race start in Leeds and the finish along the prestigious Avenue des Champs-Élysées three weeks later firmly in his mind.


“What more of an incentive do I need? To race in the Tour, in my own country and though my home town? That really is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’ll be doing all I can to grab that chance” said the Movistar professional.

2013 was a year of change for the Maldon born rider. Many questioned why he wanted to leave Team Sky, the then world’s number one team, at the end of 2012 but his decision was based on how he wanted to progress as a rider looking towards Grand Tour experience. And that’s certainly what he got with his new Spanish employers.

And he more than proved that he could take on the challenge of a three week grand tour when he competed in, finished – and won a stage – at the highest level in this year’s Giro d’Italia, the 2013 edition proving to be of the toughest for years.

“That result in the Giro time trial was certainly the highlight of my year but already I know a result like that, no matter how good it was, doesn’t mean I’ve done enough to warrant a place in Movistar’s 2014 Tour line-up.

“There’s only one time trial in next year’s Tour route” – the 54kms from Bergerac to Périgueux on the penultimate stage – “and it’s got my name written all over it but next year Movistar will be riding for Nairo and there’s nearly three weeks of racing to be gone through before we get there”.

The rise of Nairo Quintana, second overall in this year’s Tour and winner of the Mountains and Young Rider competitions’, does mean that Movistar’s management has some interesting decisions to make over the winter as they plan their rosters for the full season’s racing to come but Dowsett is hoping he’s done more than enough to merit a place in the nine man team that lines up in Leeds on Saturday 5 July.


“I’ve had a very strong finish to 2013 and put in some really strong rides in the Tour of Britain” – where the 25 year old was trying to recover from an illness for most of the race – “and the Tour of Beijing which we won with Rui and I’m hoping the team knows it’s team based rides like that that I can bring to the Tour squad.

“They won’t be able to just pack the team with another eight climbers. Nairo will need help and support on the flat and over the cobbles on stage 5 and I’m hoping my experience in these sort of situations – and the fact that I can time trial – will go in my favour in terms of team selection. If I get to race it’ll all be to help Nairo and to help the team”.

That experience over the cobbles may well prove to be the ace in Dowsett’s hand. Spanish teams aren’t exactly renown for their competiveness in the cobbled spring Classics but Dowsett put in a hard months racing in Belgium and northern France in the spring and although he wasn’t that surprised with his results – “my training for the Giro didn’t really prepare me for the short, sharp bursts needed in the cobbled races” he said at the time – he will know from those experiences what’s needed to protect Quintana, and/or Valverde and that experience could prove to be invaluable.


Alex relaxing by doing some commentating at the last Revolution meeting with some help from his friends… 

And there’ll be the experience of riding on the English roads he raced on as a junior and trains on virtually every day. So does he think “home advantage” will give him the edge over other riders?

“It’d be nice to think so and if we weren’t going for the outright win then perhaps some sentiment would play a part and, with the race going through my home town, I’d be selected on that basis. But I can’t expect that, not with the outright win as a possibility. Anyway, I want to get into the Tour team on merit”.

The Giro stage win was an obvious high point for Alex’ 2013 season. But what was the low point?

“That’s not difficult. It has to be the Worlds. After the high in the Giro time trial not being able to ride like that in the World Champs was a huge disappointment. I really knew within about 10 minutes that it wasn’t going to happen but I still had nearly 50kms to go and I couldn’t just climb off”.

It wasn’t how he’d wanted or even expected the Worlds to go. In 2012 Dowsett had finished in eighth place and, with his Giro result on top of that many pundits had Alex at the top of their list of riders who could pull off a medal ride.

But it wasn’t to be. He said at the time “it simply didn’t work. In my training leading up to the championships I’d been hitting times and power outputs I’ve never seen before. I’d trained for ages just for this ride, I’d trained so hard as I wanted to repeat my success at the Giro.

“Then in the weeks leading up to the Worlds I got a cold that turned into a viral infection and my form just disappeared. After my ride I felt absolutely gutted and it seemed that everything had just been taken away from me”.


But even now the 2014 racing season is only weeks away and already Alex has attended Movistar’s first get together. Since getting back from Beijing – “I nearly didn’t get there, my passport only came back with my Chinese visa 15 minutes before I was due to leave my house to fly to China” – Dowsett has been recharging his batteries, in Alex’ case spending time in the gym working on areas he knows he needs to improve on.

2014 is a huge opportunity for the Essex based rider. He missed out on a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’ in 2012 when early season injury saw him not as fit as he needed to be to gain Olympic selection in his “home” Games. With the Tour now coming to his home roads next year, another ‘once in a lifetime’ chance is there for the taking.

“My spirits are high. I know what chance lays ahead of me and I want it. I want to be part of and do a job for Movistar’s 2014 Tour line up. It’s the sort of chance I joined the team for and I’ll be doing all I can to make sure that chance becomes real”.



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