Just a day after bagging a record equalling sixth national time trial title, Alex Dowsett is preparing to start his second Tour de France, which begins in Brussels next week.
On Friday morning Katusha-Alpecin revealed their team for Tour with Dowsett among the eight riders starting the sport’s most prestigious race, the announcement capping two excellent days for 30-year-old.
He won Thursday’s race in Norfolk ahead of John Archibald (Ribble Pro Cycling) and Dimension Data’s Steve Cummings after tough 40km ride.
“It was good, but it was a fight,” Dowsett told Cycling Weekly after collecting his champion’s jersey at the Queen’s Sandringham estate. “It was a draggy course all the way round and I was getting splits and I was down.”
The opening half of the circuit was into a stiff headwind, making correct pacing more crucial than normal, and things were not going well for Dowsett, who has now drawn level with Stuart Dangerfield, who won the title six times between 1995 and 2005.
“I really gave a lot to that first section of the course because it was crucial. The first third I was told I was down quite significantly and I thought it was all over, but I kept plugging away and then after about two thirds I got the signal that it was close and I was coming back, so I hoped I would have it at the finish.”
In the end Dowsett’s winning margin was just six seconds over Archibald and 27 ahead of Cummings, who won the title in 2017.
“My first ever race was a club 10, so this is massive for me. It’s funny, I joke with Cavendish, and to wind me up he says this isn’t the Nationals, Sunday is the Nationals, he’ll say whoever wins the road race is the national champion.
“But to me this is more important because you can get lucky in a road race, you can’t get lucky out there in a time trial.”
“I knew I was capable of getting it again, but it’s much more of a fight than it was. Years ago, especially when it was in September, I’d be the only pro and I remember one year my two, four and six minute men didn’t turn up, and I think I caught my eight minute man.
“I would get to the finish and ask my Dad how much did I win by, as opposed to did I win. The standard is so high now that you have to bring your ‘A’ game to something like this, and I am ready for the Tour de France.
“I certainly will be enjoying these stripes this year, I think more so than I’ve ever done because I know what it’s taken and it could be my last one.”
With his form on track, Dowsett hasn’t ruled out another attempt at the Hour Record. He broke the record in May 2015 with a distance of 52.937km, losing it to Sir Bradley Wiggins a month later. In turn that record was beaten by Belgian, Victor Campenaerts (Lotto-Soudal) who rode 55.089km in Mexico earlier this year.
“Fifty-five k, that’s a big ask,” Dowsett continued. “It’s not outside the realms of possibility. One day I hope.”