After missing out on the Tour de France due to illness, nothing was going to get in the way of Alex Dowsett (England) and gold at the Commonwealth Games. The 25-year-old, dug as deep as he could to beat Rohan Dennis (Australia) by nine seconds in the time trial in Glasgow on Thursday.
"I just fought like I’ve never fought before. No one wanted that more than me today," Dowsett said before he went to go and collect his medal on the large stage in Glasgow Green. "I had a point to prove to myself, I had a point to prove that I was worthy of that Tour place. I know I was worthy of that Tour place. I was unlucky in when I got ill. I don’t have anything against the team for not taking me. If I was the team manager then I probably wouldn’t have taken me as well."
Dowsett was expected to make his Tour de France debut this year as one of Alejandro Valverde’s support riders. However, a cough that developed into bronchitis during the Tour de Suisse in June put paid to his ambitions. To add insult to injury, Dowsett was forced to hand over his national time trial title, of which he has had sole ownership since 2011.
After the disappointment in June, the Commonwealth Games took on a bigger purpose for Dowsett. He has been knuckling down with his new coach Mark Walker, with whom he joined forces at the start of this year. The months of effort paid off and Dowsett says that this result will stand up there with anything he has and is yet to achieve. "It goes a lot deeper than simply winning the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games, it’s like a personal victory for me," he said.
"I think a lot of nations that aren’t in the Commonwealth Games don’t realise how big the Games are. I didn’t give it the credit it deserved until Delhi. That silver medal there proved to me just how massive the commies are. This will be a career highlight for me regardless of what I do from here on in."
With Bradley Wiggins choosing to skip the road programme in favour of the track, Dowsett went into the event as England’s main hope for a medal. The Movistar rider was on it from the start, setting the quickest time through the first check. He continued to put time into his closest rival Dennis, until the third when the Australian went through five seconds faster. It proved to be a pivotal point for Dowsett.
"I thought it was all over to be honest and I was struggling over the last 10km, but obviously everyone was struggling. Gladly everyone was struggling a little more than I was at the end," said Dowsett. "I was really digging deep a lot of the time and trying to find that extra little bit. Out on the course today, the power figures were big for a course like that. I think I had 420 watts average, which on a lumpy course is huge for me. Everything has just come together on the day and I’ve been able to channel all the disappointment in the right way."
Dowsett will have to wait a little to celebrate, with the road race this Sunday, but it’s sure to be a big party when he finally gets his chance.