Alex Dowsett Interview

Alex riding Ster ZLM Toer - ©Copyright Kevin Kempf

Alex riding Ster ZLM Toer – ©Copyright Kevin Kempf

I caught up with new Movistar signing Alex Dowsett and he kindly answered a few questions.



What is a typical off-season for Alex Dowsett?

I’ll spend 3-5 weeks where the only bike I may look at is my mountain bike, it’s good to step away from it all to refresh the body and mind, during this period there’ll usually be a holiday of some sort and a bit more partying than usual. Then when it’s time to start training I’ll do one week lightly building up the hours then into the long base mileage, so 4-6 hour rides daily looking to get 25-30 hours a week. As the season draws nearer the hours drop down a little and intensity is added through intervals.


Is that fairly standard in terms of what other pro cyclists do?

Yes that’s a fairly bog standard off season, some guys might do work in the gym, I’ve been experimenting with it a little and I know the Scandinavians may do a lot of x-country skiing as that uses the same muscle groups.


Has your off-season this year been markedly different as you face your move to Movistar for 2013?

Only with adding in Gym work into my programme



What was the main reason for your move to ride for Movistar next season?

Opportunities, Sky is a fantastic team but I realised very quickly that with there being so many brilliant GC riders there and the fact that experience counts for a lot when getting into the big races I needed to step away to gain this experience, Movistar is a fantastic outfit that has produced some great riders and promised to give me opportunities in the bigger races.


What will your main role be at Movistar and does that differ from your role at Team Sky?

It doesn’t differ too much, I can time trial well so that will be a big focus, I have GC aspirations in races like Eneco Tour and will be supported by the team in these and in the mountainous tours I will be a domestique and maybe go for individual time trial stages.


Have you noticed any great cultural differences in the running of Movistar so far in comparison with Team Sky?

There are a lot more similarities than I thought there would be, all the big cycling teams operate in a highly efficient way


As pro cycling teams are so cosmopolitan nowadays, is there any great language barrier to overcome in terms of Team Sky being ‘British’ and Movistar ‘Spanish’?

There is, the team is keen to learn English as that’s the way the sport is going but I do need to learn Spanish, I’m having 3 lessons a week, it’s hard to get my head round that a noun, i.e. something like a bike can be masculine or feminine and the verb has to change accordingly!


You were well known when riding for Team Sky that you often remained based in Essex. Does your move to Movistar affect that?

Nope, I’m an Essex boy through and through, I race best when I’m happy and I’m happy here in Essex. I do understand the values of training abroad so ahead of grand tours I will get myself into some mountains for sure.


2013 & the Future

After your excellent result in the World Championships Time Trial, was there an increase in interest from teams in acquiring your services for 2013?

Cycling is big business but a small World, it was common knowledge that Movistar were in for me, other teams approached us as well but we followed protocol by speaking with SKY then making a decision.


What is your main objective for 2013 and which races are you most looking forward to?

Doing a Grand tour and the classics initially, the rough plan is for me to do Roubaix and Flanders and then the Giro. I’d like to retain my National Time Trial title but it will be harder given that it’s being moved in line with the National RR so Wiggo and Froome might be there. I’d like to win a tour, something like Ster Electro, Eneco, Circuit de la Sarthe, basically a hard tour with minimal mountains and with a decent TT in it.


Alex Dowsett Austrailian Pursuit - ©Copyright Chris Dando @Cycling Shorts.

Alex Dowsett Austrailian Pursuit – ©Copyright Chris Dando @Cycling Shorts.

Could you see yourself ever consider crossing over to track cycling, perhaps for an Olympic Games?

Maybe, I was hitting fairly good numbers in 2010 training for European champs but I couldn’t get myself off the start line quick enough, I can see there being more chance that I’ll be on the road for Rio


If you could pick one race to win in your career, which would it be and why?

Olympic and World TT championships, I love my time trialling and that’s the ultimate win.



What impact did riding for Trek-Livestrong have on your career, and how would you say it has helped you in terms of you career development?

The GB academy was great and prepared me for the Trek-Livestrong experience, I entered there as one of the most disciplined riders. The GB academy presented us to pro teams as the complete package.

I also learnt how to win races and the importance of enjoying what I’m doing.


Do you see yourself as solely a time-triallist specialist, a discipline in which you have obviously had a great deal of success?

No, it’s obviously a key ingredient to my success but I’ve won road races, I think I can be a solid all rounder. 


What would you say has been your career highlight so far?

8th in the World TT Championships


What is your favourite race to participate in as a rider?

I got a real kick out of the World Team Time trial championships, we didn’t do great but was a buzz nonetheless


Who are your best friends, or who do you talk to the most, in the peloton?

Mostly the lads my age, Ben King, Jesse Sergent, Taylor Phinney, Michael Matthews etc. We’re all going through roughly the same thing so we can relate to each other a lot.


What is your favourite place in the world to ride a bike?

I loved training in Switzerland, just getting lost in the hills, I want to head back this summer with a Mountain bike though! I have a ride at home I enjoy, its simply blue egg (my regular café) and back, it’s flat quiet roads and 2 hours total, I like having somewhere to aim for on a ride.


Could you ever see yourself doing a ‘Wiggo’ and going from being an outstanding rider against the clock to being a Grand Tour contender?


For more on Alex check out Anna’s chat with Alex by clicking here.






The Physiology of Pro Cyclists – Massive Lungs

As an asthma sufferer, albeit one who hasn’t had many problems in the last 8 years or so, I recently had a routine check up at the local GP practice. Taking a peak expiratory flow test, I recorded a breath volume – essentially a derivative of lung capacity – about 1/3 below that of the average 18 year old of my height.

A peak expiratory flow (PEF) test is undertaken on a peak flow meter, with a sliding dial which moves further up the measurement tab the harder you blow. I remember from reading It’s Not About the Bike that Lance Armstrong went off the scale in a PEF test, blowing the dial to the very end of the meter despite having just finished his first session of chemo. Now I know what you’re all thinking, but however you look at it and whatever you think of the guy, Lance’s athletic credentials can’t be disputed. For reference, I got the dial up to about halfway.

Lance is by no means the only cyclist with extraordinary lungs. Miguel Indurain, for example, had a lung capacity measuring 8 litres, which is 30% larger than that of the average man. 30%! Larger lungs means you can simply breathe in more oxygen. More oxygen means more oxygenated blood, which in turn means more red blood cells. More red blood cells means a higher aerobic threshold. Any cyclist with a basic knowledge of a ramp test or a time trial knows what this means. Simply, you can ride faster for longer. Other methods of obtaining more red blood cells include altitude training, or taking performance enhancing drugs such as the red blood cell booster EPO, showing the natural advantage possessed by riders with enormous lungs. It’s hardly surprising that Big Mig was such a dominant rider.

This suggests that in the same way as Usain Bolt has an incredibly rich supply of fast twitch muscle fibres and Jenson Button has reaction and reflex times dwarfing those of standard people, the best cyclists are physiologically perfectly matched to the sport we love. The one downside to this discovery is that I now realise that my poor lung capacity renders me as unsuited to flying up mountains with Froome & co. as Dawn French is physically unsuited to the High Jump. Okay, maybe not quite that unsuited, but the point still stands. Whilst it is impossible to ignore that dedication and application are of fundamental importance in obtaining athletic success, that genetics play a massive part in selecting our sporting champions is also undisputable.

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