Alex Dowsett is set to continue his strong opening season as a top-tier professional by taking on the responsibility of Team Sky leadership at the Tour of Britain.
“I got a scary phone call two weeks ago from [directeur sportif] Sean Yates, saying that Geraint [Thomas] and myself are the GC men. That was quite an honour, to depend on me,” he told Cycling Weekly last week.
The Tour of Britain starts in Peebles on September 11, featuring seven stages before a pivotal split final day in London, with a 10km time-trial and circuit race.
“That time trial comes so late, but it’ll be a lovely feeling going up and down the Embankment on a TT bike,” he added.
It’s a swift turn-around in fortunes for the Essex rider. At the start of July, Dowsett was off the bike, dealing with an ankle injury that could have jeopardised his career.
“It crossed my mind, that this might be the end of my season, the end of my career. The way the doctors put it across worried me: ‘you’ve barely got any cartilage in your ankle, have a few days off the bike and you’ll be all right’.
”It isn’t actually that serious, but it gave me a psychological scare. My haemophilia also made it worse than it is.”
Straight from a few weeks of downtime, he placed fifth overall at the Tour of Denmark. It’s the 22 year old’s best result from an opening season that has seen him finish inside the top five in all but one of the six UCI time-trials he’s done, giving Sky management faith that he can shoulder responsibility at the Tour of Britain.
“[Teammate] Kurt-Asle Arvesen said ‘all you young guys have to do is look at a bike and you get form,” he joked.
“That injury really scared me, but after Denmark and the Ster Elektro Toer [where he finished sixth overall], I’m gaining confidence in my ability.”
World and Olympic aspirations
Dowsett also rode the Olympic test event in London last Sunday in support of Mark Cavendish as one of a dozen British riders contending for a spot in both the Copenhagen world championships and 2012 Olympics line-ups.
“I’ve no idea about Copenhagen. If Wiggins and Millar make the [time trial] team, I’ll be up against it. I’d love to do it, I’d jump at the opportunity,” he said.
The same goes for the Olympic squad; Millar would not compete there, as he is currently banned by the BOA (British Olympic Association) for taking EPO.
As the rules stand, any Olympic time-trial competitors also have to take part in the road race four days previously, which Dowsett dislikes: “If it all goes to plan, I’ll do the best I can for Cav but if I finish fourth in the time-trial, I’ll wish the rules weren’t as they are.
“Imagine if three top time triallists – say Cancellara, Porte and Martin – only do 80km of the road race and pull out [and I did the whole route]. The result wouldn’t be a true representation.”
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