The sport of cycling moves quickly with little time to reflect on achievements before the next goal inches up on the horizon. The same can be said for Alex Dowsett (Katusha-Alpecin), who is looking for a record-equalling sixth British time trial title after recently finishing the Giro d'Italia.
The British National Championships come a week later than usual given the later start date for the Tour de France. Dowsett will use the Rund um Koln this weekend and the Tour de Slovenie to build up to it. His form is in a good place after last month's Giro and he hopes to add a strong result in the road race to a potential sixth title.
“[I’m doing] both road race and time trial, but obviously the time trial is the priority,” Dowsett told Cyclingnews. “I look better in white. I’m from Essex so I’m partial to as much bling as possible.
“I’m in good shape after the Giro so I don’t think there’s any reason I could be competitive in the TT and have a good go at the road race too, you never know."
After the national championships, a ride at the Tour de France could be on the cards for Dowsett, but there are plenty of eager riders hoping for their name to be among the six joining Marcel Kittel and Ilnur Zakarin.
This year’s Giro d’Italia was the first time in three years that Dowsett had lined up at a Grand Tour. He last set out on a three-week race at the 2015 Tour de France, where he abandoned midway through the second week. His only other Grand Tour appearance came at the 2013 Giro d’Italia during his first season on the Movistar team. Getting back into three-week racing was a bit of a shock to the system but Dowsett is happy with how he performed.
“I’d kind of forgotten how long it was,” he joked. “I’d been itching to get back so much that I’d forgotten the gravity of what you’re taking on when you’re starting a prologue. When you finish the prologue, you’re like ‘cool 20 stages to go’. I left home and I said to my girlfriend, see you in a month. It’s great to be back though. Not just to be back and ride, but to do a decent job.”
With the Nationals just a few weeks away, Dowsett can take particular heart from his performances against the clock where he finished fifth and sixth in the prologue and long time trial respectively. The 29-year-old had previous with Grand Tour time trials after he beat Bradley Wiggins to take the rolling time trial in Saltara at the 2013 Giro d’Italia. Dowsett says that this time around, it was a much tougher ask given the competition he faced.
“There were a lot of good time triallists there. Back in 2013 when I won the stage, there was Wiggins but there weren’t that many time triallists there. This year, almost everyone that was good went,” said Dowsett. “It was the kind of TT where if you were suffering or you weren’t fit then you were going to be found out because there were long stretches of laying the power down. So, you had to be good and you had to be in shape. When I was doing it, I didn’t think that it was that great because the numbers weren’t great but then I think that everyone was in the same boat, so everyone was probably about 20 watts down on what they’d normally expect for a time trial of that distance. I was happy.”
Katusha and the TTT World Championships
After five seasons with Movistar, Dowsett moved teams over the winter to join Katusha-Alpecin. The move allowed him to use much of the same equipment that he had been using at the Spanish team, with both squads riding Canyon bikes, but has allowed him a bit more freedom in terms of his calendar.
“I settled in right away. It’s a really friendly bunch of guys. We all really get on together. There are very few egos. We’re all in it to win and it doesn’t matter who wins so it’s been an absolute pleasure to be a part of so far. I’ve enjoyed every minute,” said Dowsett.
The switch has also put him into illustrious time trialling company with four-time world champion Tony Martin as his new teammate. Dowsett and Martin roomed together during the Giro d’Italia, giving the Briton plenty of opportunities to pick his brains.
“We got to know each other really well,” explained Dowsett. “You see how professional an athlete he is. You don’t get to where he is now without some talent but you don’t become a four-time world champion without being a seriously professional athlete.
“We talk a lot, especially for the prologue and the long TT. We gave our own thoughts on the course, where you could gain time or perhaps back off a little bit. The whole team was very open about sharing our own thoughts on how to get the most out of ourselves and you could see it because we had four riders in the top 15 on both TTs. That’s not a coincidence, that’s down to the strengths that we have as time triallists, the knowledge that we have and the equipment."
The team time trial at the World Championships in Innsbruck will be a natural target. "It’s quite an exciting prospect, the World Championships,” Dowsett said.
Alex Dowsett is a professional cyclist for Team Katusha-Alpecin. For more information on Alpecin caffeine shampoo, visit www.alpecin.com on Alpecin caffeine shampoo, visit www.alpecin.com
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