Alex Dowsett has admitted he was shocked to receive the news that he had been selected as one of Movistar's nine riders for the Tour de France after struggling on his return to racing following his successful hour record bid in early May.
Speaking to Cyclingnews at the Tour's team presentation, the Briton confessed: "I'm shocked to be here, to be honest. I knew it was going to be extremely tough to turn things around after the hour record, and it was. When I didn't finish the Dauphiné I'd pretty much written off my own chances of getting selected."
He added: "When I went home I even said to my girlfriend, 'Come on, let's go out drinking tonight because there's no way I'm going to the Tour.' But then I decided to save that night out for the moment when it was confirmed that I hadn't been selected. But here I am."
After winning the British time trial title for a record-equalling fourth time in June, Dowsett's first target at the Tour will be Saturday's 13.8km individual test. He believes the short test that runs through the heart of Utrecht's old city will provide an intriguing challenge.
"I was picking Tony Martin's brain on it at the Dauphiné, and it's tough to say who it might suit most," said Dowsett. "The corners are quite fast, and I do like a technical time trial – well, I like all time trials, but especially if they're technical."
As for his chances of winning the stage and taking the yellow jersey on day one, Dowsett acknowledged, "It's always going to be huge ask to turn over the likes of the riders who are here, because you know that they've all got their A game at the Tour de France. It's basically a world championship."
Asked whether he's bringing his A game too, he responded: "Yes, I seem to have. I have found it in the last week or two. I'll just approach it like I always do and leave everything out there.
"The fact that I can do a good job in looking after riders when things start getting hectic either before a finish or at the start of a climb, for example, is the only reason I'm here. After Saturday, my sole focus will be keeping Nairo out of trouble."
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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).
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