‘FTP and weight are the wrong questions to ask’: Alex Dowsett’s tips for youngsters aspiring to WorldTour

The British TT champion and WorldTour rider has shared his essential advice in a new vlog

‘How do I become a professional?’ is a question many young riders will have asked themselves at some point.

Watching the WorldTour stars on TV can often be inspiring and influential for many junior riders hoping to make a living out of riding their bike.

Last year, Cycling Weekly went in search of Britain's Grand Tour stars at the Tour de France, including the Yates twins and Sir Bradley Wiggins, to find out how they made it to the biggest stage.

But what does the aspiring rider need to know?

Luckily Alex Dowsett, British time trial star and an experience WorldTour rider, has offered up some essential advice in his latest vlog.

Dowsett, who started his racing the domestic TT circuit before being picked up by the British Cycling Academy, said: “I get a lot of questions from youngsters – predominantly these questions are how many watts do I need to be doing, what does my FTP need to be, what weight to I need to be at, what do I need to do to turn pro? I think the wrong questions are being asked a lot of the time.”

The 31-year-old has split his advice into two videos, the first of which is on YouTube now and focuses on riders at the under-16 and junior levels.

In the second video, Dowsett will offer tips for the under-23 ranks.

He said: “Under-16 is not the time to be taking cycling too seriously. By that I don’t mean don’t race hard. Race hard, but Ill start off by being blunt – nothing you do as an under-16 or a junior really matters.

“You can be multiple world champion and it’s going to be forgotten quite quickly.

“Enjoy it. That’s the main thing about being under-16: enjoy it, enjoy racing, race hard, don’t put any pressure on yourself.”

Dowsett followed a slightly unusual path to becoming a pro, first starting off within the British Cycling system before he decided to leave, instead heading for US Continental team Trek-Livestrong.

His advice for youngsters includes riding every kind of bike you can get your hands on.

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The Giro d’Italia stage winner said: “Race everything as well. Now is not the time to tell everyone you’re a sprinter or a track rider. Now is the chance to be everything.

“Race mountain bike, race BMX, race time trials, road, track.

“Have fun, be a kid, enjoy school, hang out with your mates, race your bikes, it’s that simple.”

And perhaps his most striking bit of advice: “Don’t buy a power meter, buy a BMX.”

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.