It probably was not the way Alex Dowsett expected his last professional bike race in Britain to go, but stage five of the Tour of Britain last week was the denouement of the 33-year-old's racing career on home soil.
The Queen's death last Thursday led to the final three stages of the Tour of Britain being cancelled, with Dowsett finding out while in a hotel near Gloucester on Friday morning.
While the Israel-Premier Tech rider still has a few races still to come in his last few months as a professional, last week was very much part of his farewell from the WorldTour.
Last month, Dowsett announced his retirement, saying that he had changed his mind on a future in the WorldTour once it had become clear that it would be another "waiting game" to find a contract.
Speaking to Cycling Weekly in Nottingham ahead of stage five, he said that it was "more significant" announcing his career end than he imagined.
"I've know for a while now, a long time, but it was more significant releasing the information than I gave it credit for, than I thought it would be," Dowsett explained. "It has been quite exciting. Since the announcement there has been quite a few opportunities have arisen.
"It's been massive. Half in terms of support, but also people enquiring as to what I'm doing next and wanting to be involved in other things, stuff that I've never considered. Just saying yes to a lot of things, and keeping my options well and truly open."
Last month he explained: "My future is still going to be on two wheels, this isn’t a retirement from cycling. This is a retirement from the WorldTour.”
Dowsett is behind a cycling brand called Thighs Club, which makes aero clothing for cyclists.
“I’m looking forward to actually being able to help more people go faster, with some business plans we have, and not being worried that I’m helping people beat me but just enjoying helping people go faster,” he said.
The man from Essex holds the record for most British time trial titles - six - and won two Giro d'Italia stages across his career. He also briefly held the Hour Record, with a distance of 52.937km, before handing it over to Bradley Wiggins a month later in 2015; he is one of the five Britons to hold the record.
On stage four, Dowsett was part of a gruppetto, or the group at the back of the race with Richie Porte, who has retired from the sport following the Tour of Britain.
"We chatted a little bit," Dowsett explained. "We're quite similar in that retirement is a bit of an unknown. We were having a good chat about our career really, how much cycling has changed over the years. I knew Richie from when we were both U23s back in Italy, he was on an Italian team, I was on the national one. It has been cool to share a career with him."
He said in his announcement that he could not face the "waiting game" of trying to find a contract in pro cycling next year. Expanding on this last week, he said that there was always "one reason or another" for it to be hard, from the pandemic to teams folding to relegation.
"The last few contract cycles have not been much fun," Dowsett said. "It's part of it, unfortunately. This year, it seems like there's more teams than there are riders, certainly at a pro conti level, but those teams don't necessarily have the funds to fund the level of rider they want. There never seems to be a good reason to be up for contract, for one reason or another over the last few years.
"There's always a something. All you need is one team to fold and then it's pandemonium. This year with all the relegation, a lot has been pushed to the end of the year for everyone. It's hassle. I think when I informed my manager of my plans he breathed a sigh of relief, that was a load of his mind."
With his manager relieved, Dowsett seems to be looking to the future now with optimism, with all those opportunities in his jersey pocket.
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