"If I hadn't been diagnosed as a haemophiliac, I wouldn't be here now"
Reigning British national time trial champion Alex Dowsett says that his breakthrough victory in the Giro d'Italia's stage nine can contain an important message for haemophiliacs like himself.
"In a roundabout way if it wasn't for the haemophilia" - which means his blood doesn't clot properly - "then I wouldn't be here," Dowsett, who was diagnosed at 18 months, said.
"The NHS, whom I can't thank enough, told me to go swimming and I was like a fish when I was a kid, swimming there five or six times a week. That fitness made me fast on the bike, and if I can send a message to young haemophiliacs, it's that there's a common misconception, that they should be wrapped in cotton wool."
"It's true that if I crash, then everyone panics a bit more or if I break a bone, then I need to go to hospital. But if it's just skin then I should be alright."
Dowsett defined himself as "fundamentally a time trialist. That's how I got into the sport, I always liked the purity of it and the technology, but i certainly wasn't expecting a result like this one, particularly as there was so much climbing. Really, I would have been content with a top ten."
While Sky might have seemed like a "natural home" for British riders, according to one journalist, Dowsett defended his decision to move on to the Spanish Movistar squad, which is forging a strong reputation in the team time trials in particular in recent years, such as when they took their win in the Vuelta's opening TTT last August in Pamplona.
"It wasn't a difficult decision for me, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Sky...but then I saw I was not getting the rides in big races, and I didn't get the opportunities because I lacked the experience."
He broke out of that particular vicious circle by moving to Movistar, where "they have put me in the big races and at the same time they rested me as much as they could coming up to today. A win like this is repaying them as best as I can."
Although he had his family out for support for a stage that he knew could be important to him - both his parents and his sister Lois were present at the stage finish - and they did their best to ease the tension during a three hour wait, Dowsett said it had not been easy to keep his nerves at bay when he was so close to taking his first Grand Tour stage win.
"For me, the race was about doing what I do. I was catching a lot of riders: it was like a carrot on a stick for me, although I knew a lot of them were taking it easy."
"But the wait was horrible. There were three standout moments: one, when [Tanel] Kangert came in very close to my time. Two, when I was up on [Bradley] Wiggins at the split, although I knew he'd improve. And three, with Vincenzo Nibali, when I knew the reverse would happen: I knew he'd be good in the twisty start, but I'd be better on the later, power sections, and that was how it went."