Dowsett: Give me three months' notice and I can break the Hour Record

TT specialist on why he left Movistar for Katusha

Alex Dowsett has told Cyclingnews that he is determined to take the UCI Hour Record title back from Bradley Wiggins and that an attempt could be made with just three months' notice.

Dowsett broke the record in May 2015 with a distance of 52.397 kilometres, only for Wiggins to raise the bar to 54.526 kilometres at the end of that season.

No rider has broken the record since but Dowsett considered an attempt during 2017, only for Movistar to shelve the project. With a new contract at Katusha-Alpecin starting in January, the British time trial specialist is once again considering his options.

"We've not talked about it but I want to do the Hour again," Dowsett told Cyclingnews at Katusha's training camp in Mallorca, Spain.

"I know that there are designs for a new bike at Canyon but at first I need to get settled. In my mind, I just need three months' notice and then I'll happily do it at the drop of a hat."

Having ridden conservatively during his first Hour Record ride in 2015, Dowsett believes there is more in the tank and that a distance over 55 kilometres is within his reach.

"If we went again then I wouldn't need as much time as I did before. There are things that I'd do differently with less track and more road in terms of preparation but I definitely think that I can incorporate it into the road season," he said. 

"The question is altitude or sea level. It would be nice to beat Wiggins at sea level but at the end of the day, a world record is a world record. I could have ridden at 400 to 420 Watts, which would have put me at 55 kilometres. I had to ride a really controlled hour but from a personal view I want to know what I could do at 100 per cent."

Hanging up at Movistar

Dowsett moves to Katusha after five successful seasons at Movistar. He won a Grand Tour time trial stage at the Giro d'Italia in 2013 and, along with the Hour Record, picked up a string of impressive results during his tenure on the team.

That said, the last few years have seen the Spanish team move even further into the realms of stage racing and, despite his skills as a time triallist and domestique, Dowsett's opportunities were becoming few and far between. He only started two Grand Tours during his spell in Spain and missing out on the Giro d'Italia this May – along with the demise of his second Hour bid – signalled the end.

"Movistar evolved in the five years that I was there. When we went to the Giro in 2013 we went with nine guys who could all win stages, and three of us did. Now, every time Movistar go to a Grand Tour it's for GC, and that's going to be the case even more so in the future with Mikel Landa signing and Marc Soler coming up," said Dowsett.

"That means that for Grand Tour selection my ability to go well in an individual TT is insignificant. It's not considered at all. In my mind, I knew that I had to move pretty early on in the season in order carry on my trajectory."

It was around May when Dowsett realised that he needed to find a new challenge. He had raced well at the Tour de Romandie in April but still wasn't deemed necessary for Nairo Quintana's Giro ambitions. With the Tour de France off the table and his contract up at the end of the season, Dowsett began looking for a fresh start.

"It was difficult because Movistar were lining up another Hour Record attempt for me. It was tricky but I didn't make the Giro selection and that re-confirmed in my mind that I had to go. I'd ridden well and I almost won a stage in Romandie and finished second in the prologue there. I was in good shape but didn't go, and not long after I found out that the Hour Record attempt had been pulled as well. That was even more of a blow and I was left with a season that had no purpose.

"From their point of view, I could see why I wasn't valuable for a Grand Tour team but if I looked at other teams I could see that I offered them value."

It wasn't just a change of team that was needed, but a change of agent. Sky Andrew had represented Dowsett since his early days at Team Sky and had helped the British rider move to Movistar for the start of the 2013 season. Five years on and Dowsett felt that a change of agent was also needed.

"I'd worked with Sky Andrew for years and he's predominately a football agent. Bob Jungels helped me out and his agent was Gary McQuaid. We'd talked about QuickStep in August and Bob told me to have a chat with Gary. Within a week and a half, it was sorted. Sky Andrew isn't well known in the cycling world and it's a really fickle world. Gary and I drew up a list of As, Bs, and Cs, and we were still talking to Movistar. I think Movistar and I knew that it wasn't what it was and that it was the right time for a change. Gary came and said that Katusha were keen but that he needed an answer fairly quickly. I told him it was an absolute yes."

Katusha have transformed over the winter with seven new signings coming on board, including Marcel Kittel, Nathan Haas, Ian Boswell and Dowsett. The five-time British TT champion will concentrate on his favoured discipline but also hopes to break into Kittel's lead-out train.

"I've not had to lead out for five years, so it's an exciting prospect to be possibly leading out Kittel," he said. "That's really exciting and I'm looking forward to that but we've got a lot of guys here who are fast for the lead-out. It's going to be competitive and every team has a strong lead-out these days." 

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