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Dowsett 'devastated' at Olympics non-selection

Alex Dowsett will not be representing Britain at the Olympics this year
Alex Dowsett will not be representing Britain at the Olympics this year (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Alex Dowsett has opened up about his disappointment at not being selected for the Olympic Games, arguing against the rule that dictates the time trial riders must be part of the road race squad. 

Dowsett, a specialist against the clock, was not included in Great Britain’s road squad for Tokyo, which instead comprises Geraint Thomas, Tao Geogheghan Hart, and Simon and Adam Yates.

The 32-year-old had opened up a second time trial spot for Britain in Toyko thanks to his fifth place at the 2019 UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire, and had since worked closely with British Cycling with a view to Tokyo. 

However, the selectors decided to give weighting to the hilly road race, with Grand Tour winners Thomas and Geoghegan Hart filling the time trial spots.

"Honestly. I’m devastated. It’s been a really tough three or four weeks, coming to terms with not going to an event that has been my sole focus since July 2019," Dowsett said in his latest YouTube video.

"I spent a few weeks really angry – angry at myself, blaming myself. British Cycling, the people who gave me such a huge opportunity to potentially go, unfortunately they have to be the ones who tell you you’re not going. Obviously they had an argument for me not going. I could argue til the cows came home that there was a place for me in that team. 

"So often we celebrate the ones who go, who win, and I think it’s important to talk about being on the other side of that. In our day and age, we’re told so much that we can be anything or do anything – you just have to want it enough or believe it enough. It’s tough. I don’t want to sit here and tell you it’s not true, but I can sit here and tell you that you can do everything under the sun, you can believe more than anything, and it can still not go your way. And that’s ok." 

Dowsett’s disappointment was varied, he said, stemming from his desire to represent his country, to make his baby daughter proud, and to become the first hemophiliac to compete in the Olympics.

He did not appear embittered, highlighting the support he’d received from British Cycling over the past 18 months and describing the process of working towards Tokyo as "really satisfying".

Likewise, he had few complaints about the names above him on the teamsheet, describing them as "the pinnacle of what we have in terms of talent in the UK at the moment".

Instead, his biggest gripe was with the criteria for the Olympic road events.

"The one that really rattled me, and always has rattled me actually, is the rule that the time triallist has to come from the road team. If you were to put this in running, and you were to say to Usain Bolt, ‘yes, you can do the 100 meters and 200 metres but we’re going to need you to line up for the 1500 as well’… for me it dilutes it," Dowsett argued. 

"Apparently in Rio [in 2016] a lot of riders down to do the road race decided there and then not to do the TT and the IOC were scratching round trying to find riders to line up for the TT. It doesn’t seem right in my mind. 

"The Olympics should be the pinnacle of everything. What I’m trying to say is there are a few time triallists sat at home watching the Olympics who should be there and there are a few road racers sat at home watching the Olympics who should be there. And the athlete-culling measures that the IOC have implemented for road cycling do have an effect. I’m not saying if the road race wasn’t an aspect to the TT selection that I’d be there, but I think my chances would have been significantly better."

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Deputy Editor - Europe. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2021 he has been Deputy Editor - Europe, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.