Alex Dowsett (Movistar) will not ride the Tour de France in July, but will focus on gaining selection for next year’s race, which starts in Yorkshire.
The national time trial champion, who at last month’s Giro d’Italia became one of just sixteen British riders to win a Grand Tour stage, has ruled out riding in this year’s centenary edition of the world’s biggest bike race.
Dowsett, who rode on to the finish of the Giro in Brescia after his stage eight time trial victory, despite weather conditions that forced one mountain stage to be cancelled and others to be rerouted, is focusing on next year’s Tour, and a Grand Depart in Yorkshire.
“It’s too much to ask for me to do two Grand Tours in one year, especially with the Tour being so close,” he told RoadCyclingUK.
“My sole motivation for finishing the Giro was to say to my team: ‘I can finish these races. I’m ready to do the Tour de France next year.’ Obviously, with it starting in England, that would be huge for me to do, so hopefully I’ve done enough.”
Dowsett, a graduate of the British Cycling Academy, left Team Sky at the end of last season to join the Spanish Movistar squad, and has already ridden some of the biggest races on the WorldTour calendar, including the Giro and Tirreno-Adriatico.
He has set himself the ambitious target of overall victory in a stage race, while conceding that the challenge will be “a huge ask”. Dowsett is racing now in the Route du Sud and could also ride the Eneco Tour.
“The next thing for me is to try and win a stage race overall… a stage race where the time trial is not the be all and end all but is vitally important, so I can get myself right up there on GC and do something on a road stage.
“To try and win a stage race: that would be the next step and then hopefully get selection for the world championships,” he said.
The 23-year-old was the sole British entrant in the elite men’s time trial at last season’s UCI world championships in Valkenberg, where he rode to an impressive eighth place finish in his first senior world championships.
Dowsett will bid to defend his British time trial jersey on Thursday June 20, when he will face competition from the Team Sky trio of Ian Stannard, Luke Rowe and Ben Swift, and from BMC Racing’s Steve Cummings, among others.
The race against the clock in Ayrshire will represent a significant change from his last encounter on home soil, where he raced to second place in the elite men’s criterium at the IG London Nocturne last Saturday.
In 2011, Dowsett lapped the entire field en-route to victory after attacking from the start. He faced a stiffer challenge this time out, which he lost by inches to Tom Scully (Team Raleigh) in a three-up sprint for the line.
“I know they said it was a photo finish – I could have told you then I was second,” Dowsett said. “I am disappointed. I’m a racer. I don’t come here to half do it.”
“It’s nice to be back. I’m glad I could be competitive, because I really wasn’t sure. These guys have been racing crits for the last two weeks, I’ve been racing 200k mountain stages. It’s a different kettle of fish. I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I gave it 110 per cent and I’m glad that I was competitive.”
Dowsett paid tribute to the spectators, who turned up in their thousands to cheer on the Nocturne riders, describing the support as “phenomenal”.
“The crowds were incredible last time, back in 2011, but this time everyone was shouting my name. I’ve never known anything like it. It was incredible – absolutely incredible,” he said.