Briton Alex Dowsett began his second professional season with Sky this week in Australia at the Tour Down Under, with a dream to race in the London 2012 Olympic Games.
“I’m trying to prove,” Dowsett told Cycling Weekly, “that I’m ready for the big races, the Olympics.”
The Tour Down Under in Adelaide was only Dowsett’s second WorldTour event and marks the start to his second professional season. Last year, he won a stage of the Tour of Britain and the national time trial championships. He ended the year with his first WorldTour event, the Tour of Beijing.
Dowsett said last year that he realised that he needed to improve his climbing. Over the winter, he put in a long training block with his Sky team-mates in Majorca. He said that he wants to continue to live in Essex, but put in more training blocks in Spain or Italy to improve.
If his climbing improves, he can survive until the final kilometres of races and help lead out sprinters Edvald Boasson Hagen, Ben Swift or Mark Cavendish. Sky fielded Boasson Hagen and Chris Sutton in the Tour Down Under, where Dowsett was put to work.
“It’s been quite a fast learning curve for him at this race, but the faster the curve, the better,” Sky sports director, Sean Yates told Cycling Weekly. “He’s got the engine and is trying to become a part of what is a very good lead-out train. It’s not easy for someone, to ride with six guys on your wheel.”
Dowsett wants to improve to be selected for Sky’s bigger races and the Olympic team. Great Britain has five spots, one will be for Cavendish and the others will be for proven lead-out men.
He said, “I need to step up to get my place.” He could also represent Great Britain in the time trail four days later if selected, but his aim is to help Cavendish win a gold medal. “I’m not wanting to go there for a top ten in the TT.”
Yates explained that Dowsett is likely too young and inexperienced for a chance. He added that if the Olympics came a year or two later, Dowsett would be more likely to find a spot in the team.
“He’s between a rock and a hard place,” Yates said.
“He has his strengths and qualities. He has a chance, but first and foremost, he must concentrate on his Sky career.”
Based on the Olympic selection, Dowsett will programme the remainder of his season. He hopes to race the Worlds and the Vuelta a España.