Alex Dowsett Interview: Successful first year with Sky bodes well for 2012
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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Alex Dowsett Interview: Successful first year with Sky bodes well for 2012

by Ed Hood at 7:32 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews
Olympics a target, British time trial champ also looking forward to working with Mark Cavendish

Alex DowsettIt’s a big step up to the World Tour from riding at U23 level. Some find it a struggle and take a season or two to settle in, but Sky’s neo-pro Alex Dowsett made the transition seamlessly, scoring road and time trial wins in his first season with the ‘big beasts.’

Dowsett has shown his class over the years, shining in each level of his career. He was British junior time trial champion in 2005 and 2006 before moving up to take the U23 title in the same discipline in 2008 and 2009.

It was also in 2009 that he gained his first big international result with seventh in the world U23 TT championships.

That ride was followed by a season with the Trek-Livestrong under 23 squad, where he continued his progression. He won the European time trial championship, nabbed silver in the Commonwealth Games time trial and took victory in the U23 Chrono des Nations.

Unsurprisingly, Sky Procycling was interested and snapped him up. This season he won the super-fast Smithfield nocturne criterium in London; was fifth in the Tour of Denmark; won a stage and was second on GC in the Tour du Poitou-Charentes; took the British elite time trial championship, won the time trial in the Tour of Britain and rounded his season off with third in the Chrono des Nations behind world champion Tony Martin.

His constant progress bodes very well for the future, and points to a strong 2012. As he started his winter break, the 23 year-old from Essex took time to talk to VeloNation about this WorldTour debut.

VeloNation: What’s the jump from U23 to World Tour been like, Alex?

Alex Dowsett: I rode in the Tour of Qatar with Livestrong last year so that gave me a taster…that was useful in knowing what to expect.

A lot of people told me that the jump was a big one and that it would take a season or two to settle in. When I finished behind the gruppetto in the Tour of Andalucía, I began to think that was how it was going to be. However the Tours of Luxembourg and Denmark were easier than I expected and things have gone well.

VN: How many race days did you have in 2011?

AD: I haven’t the foggiest! But it was a lot – I rode quite a few five/six day stage races.

I missed out on the Tours of Wallonia and Austria due to an ankle injury; but it didn’t do me any harm. You see neo-pros going in to Grand Tours and coming out nailed, so I think it was a good level of racing for my first season. I’ll be ready for a Grand Tour in 2012.

VN: A thing new pros find tough is the amount of travelling that goes with the job.

AD: I actually found that aspect easier. We did a lot of flying with Livestrong but if we were travelling by road then we were in the team car. But at Sky you’re on the bus. I love it, it’s so comfortable, you can relax, watch a movie – it’s better than being in the hotel.

VN: Which results are you happiest with this season?

AD: It was great to get that road stage in Poitou-Charentes; it really opened my eyes to what you can achieve with good team riding.

Mick Rogers and Greg Henderson towed me into the crosswind and set things up for me; I crossed the line first for the win but I felt that we all won the race, not just me.

I’m most proud of winning the time trial in the Tour of Britain. It was seven days into the race but I woke up feeling good and everything went perfectly…it was in front of my family and friends and my first time in the GB national champion’s skinsuit.

VN: Does that skinsuit give you a boost?

AD: I’m conscious of the responsibility that it carries; I’m fully aware that Geraint Thomas. Bradley Wiggins and David Millar were all absent, but you can only beat who’s there – and Steve Cummings is a strong rider.

I want to do the jersey proud. In the Tour of Britain time trial I was the only one in a white skinsuit; I felt I had to perform.

Alex DowsettVN: Which race did you enjoy most in 2011?

AD: The Tour of California. I was part of the leadout trains when Greg Henderson and Ben Swift won their stages. Being part of that is almost better than winning yourself.

VN: You were third in the Tour of Beijing time trial; what do you think of ‘Mondialisation?’

AD: It was a new experience, they looked after us well – we flew business class, which I believe the organisers paid for.

The hotels were good and I think it’s good for the sport to develop worldwide.

VN: You must have been disappointed not to go to the Worlds?

AD: I was disappointed, but I lost out to Bradley Wiggins and David Millar so I can’t complain. I was actually more disappointed at not being part of the road race team. For next year, if I want to be do the Olympic time trial, I have to be part of the road race team.

Management say that whilst I’ve proven myself over races at 160/200 kilometres, I need to prove myself over 260 kilometres.

I’ve said to management that I’d like to ride in races of that sort of distance to prove to British Cycling and Sky that I can perform. I know that I can, but I have to demonstrate it.

VN: What have you gained from Sky’s well publicised ‘attention to detail?’

AD: I’ve learned tons. Being with the older riders condenses stuff for you that would take you years to learn. The time spent in the wind tunnel is great for getting your position sorted.

We have the best of nutrition products…and from the testing we’ve done I’ve learned that I’m probably not drinking enough at the end of races.

VN: The Pinarello is a very different beast to the Trek you had at Livestrong…

AD: When I came to Sky we set the position identical to my Trek but we’ve made changes based on the wind tunnel results – and what looks and feels right.

VN: What are you doing with your winter break?

AD: Staying home! I’ve done enough travelling; I have the Downing Brothers ‘do’ and the Braveheart dinner coming up – so I’m looking forward to those.

VN: What about 2012?

Alex DowsettAD: I don’t have my outline programme yet but I’d like to do the Giro and prove myself over the distances and in a Grand Tour.

The Olympics are a big goal and with the Worlds being post-Olympics I think have the potential to do well there. I just want to keep improving and not disgrace myself.

VN: How will Cav’s arrival change the dynamic of the team?

AD: I think he’ll bring a lot of experience with him; I’m very excited about the prospect of being part of his lead out train. You just have to look at how riders who have supported him in the past have progressed, Tony Martin, Mark Renshaw, Matt Goss . . .

VN: Every time I walk past the Sky bus, it’s 'The Jam' blasting out . . .

AD: It depends who’s on the race – personally I’m more into dance; CJ Sutton and Steve Cummings usually control the sounds, but I like what they play . . .



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