At the Tour of Guangxi last month, Alex Dowsett pinned on a racing number for the last time with Movistar. The Briton joined the Spanish squad in 2013 and after five years in the navy blue, will race in the red of Katusha-Alpecin from 2018.
While the 2017 season, the longest of his Movistar tenure, didn't provide the results and performances Dowsett anticipated, he nevertheless explained he thoroughly enjoyed his experiences.
"If we focus on this season, it was not what I hoped it to have been but if we focus on the last five-year's it's been an incredible five years in terms of what I've achieved," Dowsett told Cyclingnews in China.
During his five years with Movistar, Dowsett rode just two Grand Tours: the 2013 Giro d'Italia, winning the stage 13 time trial, and the 2015 Tour de France, which he was forced to abandon with injury. Articulating his desire for more three-week racing, Dowsett's ambition for 2017 was a return to the Giro but ultimately wasn't selected. A decision he respected as he explained Movistar's rationale.
"The Giro was my first target, and because of the GC ambitions of Nairo and in the team there are some better domestiques than I am, I wasn't taken," he reflected. "For me personally, it was a disappointment. From the team's point of view, it is no problem for me with the team, it a decision with management that perhaps I would have made myself. There is no team time trial and my ability to individual time trial plays a very insignificant part when you have Nairo who can win the overall. The other eight riders need to be selected on their ability to help Nairo. Someone like Bennati does a similar job to me but a bit better. That's experience, that's Bennati being the rider he is. It is what it is."
With Katusha-Alpecin, Dowsett is looking to experience more of the Grand Tours with the team and cement his place a key rider in Marcel Kittel's lead-out train. Although, his precise roles and responsibilities will be fleshed next month at team camp.
"We sit down in December and work out exactly what the plan is," said Dowsett, who will enjoy a three-week holiday in New Zealand over the off-season. "I've helped sprinters within Movistar, but it is no secret that we are not a sprint team. Marcel Kittel next year is a different kettle of fish. I am excited to be working with a sprinter again, and I hope in the first few races I get that I can work with Marcel. I think I can show, like I did back in 2011 and 2012 with Team Sky, that I am good in a lead-out train. I am just excited."
Adapting to change
At Katusha-Alpecin, Dowsett is under no illusion that life will be different with a new team culture, management, teammates, and race programme, for example. However, Dowsett will continue to race onboard Canyon, who sponsor both Movistar and Katusha-Alpecin.
The time trial specialist worked with Canyon in the lead into his successful 2015 Hour Record attempt of 52.937 kilometres. For Dowsett, not having to refine his time trial position and spend an off-season adapting to a new bike is a bonus to the transfer.
"You look at the Canyon TT bike and when the Speedmax was released, it was the first of its kind," he said. "Subsequently you see a lot of other TT bikes which are remarkably similar. For example, BMC is very similar shape to the Canyon and I guess it's proven. It makes life very easy in terms of the swap over. I'll just have to get used to SRAM instead of Campag and Zipp wheels instead of Campag wheels. They are probably just as round so it won't take a lot of getting used to."
As the second move of his WorldTour career, Dowsett is also better placed to appreciate the differences and complexities of different teams. Explaining his shock at the differences between Sky and Movistar, Dowsett described that he came to understand the different methods of both teams, and that neither was necessarily right or right, but simply different approaches to dominating the sport. With Katusha-Alpecin, naturally Dowsett expects a period of adjustment but is confident of a quick adaption and further success.
"Movistar is a very different team to Team Sky and I imagine Katusha is very different to Movistar. Not necessarily just better or worse, just different. I am just excited to learn more really. I remember when I went from Sky to Movistar feeling like it was very different. At the time, I didn't think it was right but clearly with how success both teams are, they both do things very differently but both very right. I am excited for Katusha as well. I've said hello to some of the staff here and everyone seems really friendly."