Alex Dowsett talks about his season, his new team and his goals for 2018
in advance of this year's Cycle Show - at the NEC Birmingham from September 22 – top pro Alex Dowsett talks to Cycling Plus. Images: Tino Pohlmann
How would you sum up 2017?
The Tour de Romandie in April was great, I climbed not terribly – which is a win for me, I almost came away with a couple of stage wins and my general early season form heading into May was really good. Lows were some missed opportunities and bad luck, the usual for any bike rider in a season. I didn't end up on an operating table this year though, which makes a nice change (touches wood ahead of the last two races) [Dowsett was forced to miss the 2016 Giro d'Italia following an op to remove a metal plate from his collarbone].
How was riding the TT in your home county of Essex during the 2017 Tour of Britain?
It was a very cool day, I'm glad everyone got to witness such a world class field as well, it was a proper, proper race. [Alex finished a highly creditable 9th]
You’re moving on from Movistar to Katusha-Alpecin for 2018, what do you hope the change of team will bring?
Sometimes it's just change that you need, a new impetuous and I think that's where I sit. I'm excited at the prospect of helping Marcel Kittel in the sprints [the German star is also joining the team for 2018] and the team time trial potential as well.
What are your goals for next season?
Helping Kittel and maximising the team time trial potential! A grand tour as well, it's been too long [Alex's last grand tour start was in 2015]. And getting my British time trial champion stripes back off of Steve [Cummings]. The goalposts keep being moved on who's won the most national titles out of childhood idol Stuart Dangerfield and I [Dangerfield retired with six wins, Dowsett currently has five]. I've still got some work to do it seems, but I liked my stripes. I need them back in my life, with a matching bike, training gear, sunglasses, bedsheets, cats...
The move means that you can still compete on Canyon bikes – what do you like most about the brand?
The support Canyon gave me when I broke the hour record in 2015 was unreal, I like how all the bikes are built, everything makes sense and nothing exists on the bikes without a purpose, the engineer head in me loves it and loves the brand.
We’re coming into a British winter – how do you keep motivated and training when the weather gets grim?
Training camps in Lanzarote for starters! That said Costa del Essex isn't so bad weather and temperature wise to be honest. There's a decent group of lads that train together and Zwift and such like makes indoor training much more tolerable – not fun but more tolerable, which is a significant step up from soul sapping! I do gym work as well – building these quads into something between Chris Froome and Chris Hoy.
What changes have you seen in cycling in the UK since you’ve been a pro?
There are more people commuting to work on bikes definitely – driving through London before 9am is incredible to see. It's an exciting time, I 'm actually a shareholder in a new and super innovative cycle to work initiative called Free2Cycle. It's a behavioural change initiative encouraging more people to get out on their bikes to be healthier and happier and it's a very cool idea.
All you have to do is ride your bike, and you pay for it just by riding your bike. It works by sponsors (normally employers) funding cyclists' commute mileage on their bike, and they'll see a 10:1 return from it, it's a no brainer. It's really amazing to be involved in something much bigger than yourself and which has a positive impact environmentally, in wellbeing and helps the cycle industry.
Do other riders recognize you when you’re riding around Essex? Any of them try and race?!
Ohhh it's one big race in Essex, and everyone's getting much better at bicycling as well! Gone are the days where I could just ride round and pick up Strava segments – I have to account for wind direction, air pressure, a taper, a lead out and all sorts to even consider an assault on a segment.
I think it's due to people training smarter, through really awesome coaching companies that increase your FTP and reduce your CDA by satisfactory margins, companies much like Cyclism, who I hear are the best, but I maybe biased. [Alex is definitely biased - he founded Cyclism! (ed)]
What would be your biggest piece of advice for anyone thinking of taking up road cycling?
Get a bike first, Free2cycle is an obvious choice and get some coaching advice from Cyclism, another obvious choice!! [That's enough blatant plugging, ed]
But then get racing, 4th cat racing at somewhere like Ford's Dunton test track in Essex to learn the ropes and then get stuck in. 'Getting fit' is a goal to so many but that really is unfinishable – I'm still trying to "get fit" and so is ChrisFroome probably – so get racing, set a goal like getting a 2nd cat licence or going sub 20mins for a 10.
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Then have a beer when you do it and set a new goal over the 3rd beer, because no one had a beer for when they got 'fit' because they're all still trying!
The Cycle Show
Alex was talking to Cycling Plus in advance of the Cycle Show, which runs from Friday the 22nd to Sunday the 24th of September at the NEC in Birmingham. To buy tickets click here and enter the code CYCPLUS for a 10% discount
Alex will be visiting the Canyon stand - K63 – on Friday 22nd.
Cycling Plus will be hanging out on stand H145 - come and say hello!
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