Triple British national time trial champion Alex Dowsett marked a career-defining win at the Giro d’Italia last year but has chosen to skip the Italian Grand Tour this season in pursuit of a different milestone.
Dowsett is currently training in Spain as he takes steps toward a Tour de France debut with Movistar this summer.
“Ever since I joined Movistar the Tour this year was their objective for me,” Dowsett said. “Nothing is certain until you’re on that start line but so far everything is looking good towards it. That’s why I’m not starting the Giro.”
Dowsett signed with Movistar at the end of 2012 in no small part due to the big race opportunities, which last year included a northern classics and Grand Tour debut, it offered.
“It’s a funny one because you might not win a race but you have your own personal victories. In 2010 I broke a shoulder blade and then won under-23 European championships seven weeks later, so you have little victories like that, which maybe mean more to you because of the stuff you had to overcome,” he said. “But the Giro one was a surprise. I didn’t take into account that I was eight days into a stage race. I was looking at the numbers in front of me and thinking this actually isn’t very good.”
The off-contract time trial specialist was not due to return to the cobbles this season but did with the team having to alter its roster through illness and injury.
“I asked not to do them because I’m putting all my eggs in the Tour basket this year and I got a fairly strong indication last year that you need to prepare very specifically for the classics,” he said. “There was no pressure, the team said basically just do what you can but I had a nice reminder again that you have to prepare specifically for the classics.”
Dowsett was obviously in winning form this time last year and believes he is in better shape again taking confidence from a stage victory at April’s Circuit de la Sarthe and a solid ride at the Giro del Trentino.
“I was climbing alright for me anyway,” he said of the latter. “It worked out [Adriano] Malori, myself and Daniel Oss were the three heaviest riders in the race. You didn’t really have your normal gruppetto with sprinters and lead-out guys because everyone there was a climber. I wasn’t really even in that. I was in the gruppetto ahead of that so for me that showed I’ve progressed a fair bit. I was quite happy.”
Dowsett is set to start the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon later this month before the Criterium du Dauphine in which he is targeting the 10km prologue. All being well he will then taper for a Yorkshire Grand Depart.
“That’s where the team wants me, that’s where I want to be and I’ll be very disappointed if it doesn’t go that way,” Dowsett said.
Movistar has entered the 97th edition of the Giro this year with race title favourite and Tour de France runner-up Nairo Quintana.
The Movistar rider tells Cycling Weekly that Dave Brailsford ask him to skip last Sunday's world team time trial championships