The Movistar rider was part of a leading duo for around 25 kilometres on Monday's stage.
The Movistar rider time trialled across to One’s Pete Williams, who was four minutes ahead of the peloton when he set off, and rode with the Southport-born rider for around 25 kilometres in the middle part of today’s undulating stage from Clitheroe to Colne before dropping back to the peloton.
“Tactically it wasn’t my most astute decision to go across, I cooked myself,” said Dowsett.
“Yesterday the legs felt good, and I got across really well. I was struggling a bit when I got there [up to Williams], and I was on the back foot after that.
“Normally that move wouldn’t work, but sometimes at the Tour of Britain it’s the stuff that shouldn’t work that does, and I thought there was a chance in a breakaway today.
“But when Sky pulled the gap from three minutes to one really quickly, I figured they were playing with us. That’s where I made the decision with the team to drop back and save the legs.”
The 26-year-old eventually finished 78th on the stage, nearly 22 minutes behind stage winner Petr Vakoč (Etixx-Quick Step).
“I’m not going to ride into yellow now, being 21 minutes down on GC,” joked Dowsett. “I didn’t come here to train, though; we’ll sit down as a team and work out what we need to do this week.”
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Dowsett is likely to be selected for Movistar’s squad for the World Championships team time trial in Richmond, USA on September 20, but has not been informed as to whether or not he’ll be selected to represent Great Britain in the individual event three days later.
He is still suffering from the stomach bug picked up at last month’s Tour of Poland, which resulted in him losing four kilos.
“I was trying to go out with some local group rides [after the race] and I’d select to go with slower riders, and I was getting dropped. I was in a bad place,” he added.
“It took me a while to come round. I was doing some practice 10s, too, and I was struggling to get anywhere near the power I know I can.
“The [Tour du] Poitou [Charentes, August 25-28] was an improvement, hopefully this race will move me on further.”