Alex Dowsett says it has not been easy to ignore the rumours of the potential end of Katusha-Alpecin, saying he simply has to try and “block it out and just crack on.”
The 30-year-old turns his focus to the World Championships elite men’s time trial on Wednesday, where he’ll hope to improve on his best ever result of eighth in 2012.
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Dowsett is one of 11 contracted riders at Katusha for 2020, with the team’s future still uncertain since rumours of it’s possible demise surfaced during the Tour de France in July. Since then, the team has been linked to numerous mergers with teams including Arkéa-Samsic and more recently, a possible buyout by Israel Cycling Academy.
For the remaining riders, time is ticking for them to locate new contracts for the 2020 season if the team was to go under. Spaces are quickly filling in other teams and the deadline is looming for Katusha to register with the UCI for next year’s WorldTour.
Dowsett is taking a “no news is good news” approach to the situation, saying riders haven’t heard anything about developments in talks to save the team.
“To start with [hearing the news], it was fine,” Dowsett said.
“We know it’s difficult, but we knew that behind the scenes they were fighting for our team. And they still are.
“[But] It’s not easy. You kind of have to block it out and just crack on.
“You start hearing other teams filling up and me being a contracted rider, you’re just waiting to then see if you’ve got to go looking around or if you are safe. But I always figured no news would be good news, because it means there was still a possibility. And that’s where we’re still at.
“We don’t get told anything, which, again, is frustrating; frustrating for us on a personal level, because it’s just uncertainty, but actually you can understand because if I were to say we’re chatting with Arkéa at the moment, this is how negotiations are going, it all just keeps the rumour mill turning.
“So I think the team’s been real professional in keeping things locked down and and left it up to kind of anyone to fabricate a possibility and throw it out there.”
The British time trial champion faces the 54km time trial in Yorkshire on Wednesday against some stiff competition from the likes of defending champion Rohan Dennis (Australia), European champion Remco Evenepoel and Hour Record holder Victor Campenaerts (both Belgium), as well as four-time winner Tony Martin (Germany) and Vuelta a España winner Primož Roglič (Slovenia).
Weather conditions blighted the U23 men’s event on Tuesday morning, though conditions look set to be easier for elite men with the rain forecasted to hold off.
Dowsett said the course, which he first rode back in May, is ideally suited to him with the uphill sections not tough enough to play into the hands of stronger climbers.
The Essex-born rider remained cagey though on his finishing place expectations, saying he is just aiming to make sure he does everything as well as he can on the day.
“It’s a really nice [course]. It has everything,” Dowsett said. “I think it’s a really well designed course. It has a couple of climbs but nothing that’s going to separate the likes of Roglič from the rest of us. There’s some long straights, a few corners.
“There’s one bump that potentially you’re going to lift off the ground on, and then the run into Harrogate is a slog at times, but I really like it.
“If I finish top 10, it’ll be a nice result but I will be looking at what was the gap to ninth, or third, or first? And is that achievable? You analyse it afterwards,” he added.
“I just I want to have good ride. I know I’ll get everything out but I just want it all to come together on the day.”