Feature: Alex Dowsett ready for the new season

Gordon Wiseman chats to Alex Dowsett who’s got big plans for 2017 after a disappointing 2016

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Feature: Alex Dowsett ready for the new season

With his winter training phase now behind him, last week British TT Champion Alex Dowsett (Movistar Team) pinned on a race number for the first time in the new 2017 racing season with plans to put behind him what he considers by his own high standards to have been a disappointing 2016.

“I feel I’m already going well” explained Dowsett. “I’ve only raced twice so far this season but, yes, I feel good about where I am for the time of the year and so and I’m feeling quite happy”.

Those two races were both in Majorca, a starting point for many of the rivals Dowsett will be marking himself against as the year’s racing really gets under way and so for the 28-year-old, it gave him an opportunity to gauge exactly where he wants, and thinks he should be.

“You never really know how well your winter training has gone until you race for the very first time at the start of a year. But last week I felt the best I have done in Majorca for a few years. I’m working with a new coach and it all feels that I’m doing a little less in actual time on the bike training but the quality feels that much better.

“That’s why those opening two races were also quite nervous affairs for me, with me asking myself have I been doing the right sort of stuff? But I’m sticking to the plan we’ve put together and, from last week we can see that it’s all starting to work together”.

Alex’ new coach is 2010 Commonwealth Games silver medallist Charlene Joiner who is known to many as also being a more than successful crit rider. “She knows exactly what she’s doing now she’s focussing more on coaching and over the last few months she’s shown that she really knows how to crack a whip and has got me going. The team know exactly what programme Charlene and I are working to.”

The 2016 Season
Looking back on his 2016 season, Alex found the year as a whole to be quite a frustrating affair. “I’d worked really hard over the 2015/16 winter and I’ve virtually lived in Lanzarote putting in the miles and by the time I was finishing off getting ready for the Giro, things were going really well”.

Then Alex’s season was turned upside down when a plate in his shoulder broke through his skin completely ruining his chances of racing in the three-week Italian Grand Tour. “The plate was from my broken collar bone in 2015 but there was nothing I could do, I just had to get that sorted and start rebuilding my year. And having missed the Giro, I wasn’t ready for possible Tour selection and that ultimately impacted on my chances of racing in Rio in the 2016 Games.”

“There seemed to be a number of minor setbacks, but having missed out on those opportunities, I had a ‘Big Night Out’ and then just started working hard again. But it was all so very frustrating, it seemed I was constantly chasing my tail.”

But there were positives from the 2016 racing season including a fifth senior Time Trial Championship win and setting the quickest time in a World Tour time trial in the Tour of Poland but, as ever, Alex sets very high standards for himself and he always wants more. “Getting that TT win in Poland, although I ‘rode angry’ I was able to climb off the bike and say to myself, ‘yes, this is what I know I can do’”.

Last week’s opening two races followed the team’s presentation in Spain and so race one – which finished in a bunch sprint – was really a familiarisation session for Alex and his team-mates. But in race two Alex successfully played his part in helping team leader Alejandro Valverde into 2nd place.

Race 2 was really quite hilly with lots of 3km climbs before the big climb of the day, 14kms up Puig Major after already having covered fast and furious kilometres. “My job was to take the team to the base of that big climb. I then hung on for 2kms more before leaving six team-mates to ride for Valverde for last 60km. But with him getting 2nd place in the sprint it was smiles all round when we got back to the team hotel”.

Away from the training over the winter – “I moved house and got two little kittens! In the new house I’ve got room to properly set up space for my winter turbo so I’ve been putting that into good use doing some really beneficial interval sessions” – Alex has been spending time building up his coaching company Cyclism which gives him an opportunity of putting something back into the sport that’s given him so much.

“We have a really good young rider on our books in Amber Joseph. She’s only 17 year’s old but already puts out very impressive power figures. She’s also working with Charlene and like Charlene she could be a good crit rider. But with her power and kick we also think she’ll be able to ride a good Omnium so we’d like to think that the Tokyo Games in 2020 are a possibility. She’s already very mature and is a great canvas to work from”.
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Alex is already in Dubai for his next block of racing, the 865km, five stage Dubai Tour that started on Tuesday. “This will be a really good block of racing for me. And with us staying in the same hotel for the whole period of the race, that’s always a bonus in itself” Alex laughed. “It’s mostly a flattish race but, the one big climbing stage makes up for that with a couple of really unpleasant climbs before we finish that stage”.

After Dubai, all races lead Alex to this year’s Giro d’Italia which will be made all the more special this year with it being the 100th anniversary running of this great race. “Again, the route for the Giro suits me with a couple of good TTs whereas the Tour route looks like it’ll be too much climbing. But if I keep good form after the Giro and the team need me, it’d be great to race the Tour again”.

And after the Giro? “Yes, I am looking at having another crack at the Hour record’ – which Alex broke in 2015 only to see his mark beaten by Sir Bradley Wiggins a few weeks later – ‘but just when that’ll happen I don’t know at this stage”.

With his contract at Movistar Team up for renewal at the end of 2017, Alex will have a lot on his mind in the coming year, “but I’ll attack the year as I always do so if Lady Luck works with me I’m confident about 2018 and the future. There’s no metal in me now so things should be smoother! And racing for Movistar, I’m never under pressure from team, they know I want to do well and support me, support everyone, in everything that I’m doing”.

Gordon Wiseman



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