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Back 4.13.2018

Team KATUSHA-Alpecin’s Alex Dowsett – A Panache for Pushing Limits

British pro Alex Dowsett brings to Team KATUSHA-Alpecin some serious time trialing power. His panache for pushing limits is also useful in breakaways and in lead-out trains. Dowsett, already a WorldTour veteran and a former world hour recorder holder, has proven a knack for winning races few expect him to win. We caught up with Alex at KATUSHA Alpecin camp. Below is an edited transcript:

What excites you the most about being part of team KATUSHA-Alpecin?
The opportunity to work with Marcel Kittel and the lead-out train is really exciting. In my five years with Movistar, I didn’t really work with the sprinters, certainly not one of Marcel’s caliber. The opportunity to be in the lead-out train is massive here and also the team time trial. I think we have a team that can really win World Championships, so that would be pretty epic as well.

Beside the world championships, with you, Tony Martin, and other strong time trial riders there are some good opportunities such as the team time trial at the Tour de France.

Yes, definitely. Also, Tirreno-Adriatico is always an important one. I think we would go this year certainly with [Simon] Špilak as our GC guy. So if we can make sure he is well out there from the get-go, life will be a lot easier for him.

Beyond time trialing and supporting Marcel Kittel, what are your other goals?
Just to get settled in the team. When you join a new team you always have to find your feet a little bit. And then, for me, the Giro d’Italia is a big target early on. There are two time-trials in it that will be really important. I think I can perform well in both of them. After that, we haven’t really discussed anything.

You are one of a very few riders to have held the hour record. At the team presentation, you said that you’d like to go for it again at some point. Do you have any thoughts on a time frame?
Before my career ends, to be honest [laugh]. You get a bit stronger as you get older, so there’s no huge rush. But I’m very new in the team. The lucky thing is that I guess it’s a project that Canyon has already done. They are fully aware. Actually, the preparation aspect is bigger from the team point of view than it is from mine. You do it toward the end of the season…. It’s something I would like to but I’ve no idea if I’ll do it here at KATUSHA, I hope so. But I’m just seven days in with the team, so it’s a lot to ask for now after such a short space of time. First I just want to get settled and maybe bring it up later in the year.

You came up through the Axel Merckx team, which SRAM has been supporting since it started. It’s great to have you back on SRAM. Do you have fond memories of that time?
Absolutely! That was the best and funniest years of racing I’ve ever had, back in 2010. I endured a really hard kind of apprenticeship with the Great Britain team in 2007, 8 & 9 and after that’s when bike racing became fun again in 2010 in America. We were super competitive. It’s partly down to having Taylor Phinney on the team. He would win, so we all wanted to win and I was forever second, either second behind Jesse Sergent or second behind Taylor Phinney. And then when we went to the European Championships and neither of those two was allowed to race, I won it. It was a brilliant year. I enjoyed SRAM. Having a new groupset as a youngster was big. I remember the DoubleTap system. It was quite intuitive. The new SRAM is like DoubleTap; it’s quite intuitive, similar to paddle-shifters on a car. It just makes sense and I really like it.

Which wheels were you riding the past few days?
The 303s. Best training wheels I’ve ever had. It’s not often you have the chance to train on carbon wheels. The other day we went on time-trial training, and I’m on the same frame as last year [Canyon SpeedMax]. It was nice to feel how well they roll actually. The front wheel is a lot more important than the rear wheel. I did notice how well it rolled. And I’m looking forward to testing the 454 and 858 NSW. They say with crosswinds is where they perform extremely well.

Do you have a golden moment when riding or racing that you look back on with a smile? What are the best memories you have of your career?
Interesting question. It’s actually the races you don’t expect to win. They are the ones you are the happiest about, like the Commonwealth games [2010], I got a silver medal. I was happy and then I got the gold medal in Glasgow [2014] when I was thinking a top 10 would be nice. With second, I thought, ‘It can’t be better than this,’ because it was such a surprise. Then you go to Glasgow and think, ‘I can’t win, but I don’t want to finish second again, so it’s a relief to win.’

The Giro win I had in 2013 was huge because, again, it was not expected… a first ever Grand Tour victory and still a young rider. It was a long, long 55km TT, so I think the longest in the Grand Tours’ history for a long time. We hadn’t reconned the course; we hadn’t done anything like this. To win that, especially ahead of Wiggins, was pretty massive.  

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