Alex Dowsett's run without a Grand Tour start continues after he missed out on selection for the Tour de France. Dowsett was part of Movistar's long list but he was not on the final nine-rider roster announced by Movistar on Monday. It is now two years since the British rider rider has lined up at a Grand Tour.
It's another source of frustration for Dowsett after he was overlooked for the Giro d'Italia earlier this season, despite making it his early-season goal.
"I'm 28 now, and I've done just two Grand Tours. It's not enough,” said Dowsett bluntly.
Dowsett's last Grand Tour appearance was the 2015 Tour de France, where he was forced to abandon due to an injury he picked up earlier in the race. His one other Grand Tour start came in 2013 at the Giro d'Italia, when he won a time trial stage, beating Bradley Wiggins by 10 seconds.
Dowsett has one more chance to start a three-week race in 2017, at the Vuelta a Espana, but a ride at home, at the Tour of Britain, is enticing too.
"I might ask about the Vuelta, but at the Tour of Britain there is a time trial that is in Clacton just down the road," said Dowsett, referring to his home in Essex, in southern England. "I need to be doing them as well. I'll have a big think and see what happens."
Dowsett was speaking after he finished second to Stephen Cummings (Dimension Data) at the British national time trial championships. He was yet to be informed about missing the final selection, but he sensed the writing was already on the wall.
"I'd be surprised if I got selected just because of the calibre of the riders that my team has got to do that job," he said. "It's been a tough year. I was aiming for the Giro, and I was really fit for the Giro, and I didn't get selected on a similar basis. I'm not holding out hope of getting selected for the Tour."
Dowsett has been trying to take the disappointment in his stride. He understands the team's decision and says that he would have done exactly the same.
"I've worked hard this year, and it's been kind of frustrating, but I'll keep plugging away and aim towards whatever happens at the end of the year," he said. "The decisions that the team have made I would have made at the same time.
"Movistar has been a fantastic place for me these past few years, but this year with how good Nairo has been and how important that team around him is, they have made some decisions that haven't gone in my favour. It's a shame for me, but I can completely understand where they're coming from."
A fork in the road
Missing out once again leaves Dowsett with a decision to make, a fork in the road.
Should he keep pushing down the same path and continue to train as a time triallist? Or should he allow that talent to slip a touch and train to work as a domestique?
It's a tough decision for Dowsett. His time trialling ability has served him well - earning him at least two victories per season and several podium finishes. It might not sound like a whole lot, but for Dowsett it is important. The Briton is a haemophilia sufferer and standing on the podium, he says, is an opportunity to be an example to other sufferers.
"I'll reassess whether I want to be a time triallist. I'm no Tony Martin, I know that, but on my day I can win. Or whether I go down the domestique route, but I kind of like winning. I like where I'm at. I can do a good domestique job but I want to continue being a good time triallist," said Dowsett.
"Mick Rogers said to me, when I was at Team Sky, the best bit of advice he had for me was to stick to what you're good at. I'm good at this.
"That's why I did this sport. I like being part of a team that helps a GC guy win, but I like winning myself. I know what it does for the haemophilia community, the rare disease community. Seeing you on the podium is a real example of what you can achieve. Plugging away on the front, while it's part of cycling which I like doing as well, this is my bread and butter and why I get up in the morning."
Dowsett will have at least a month off before he may be able to race again, with the Tour de Pologne or the Clasica San Sebastian potentially his next race.
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