Former Hour Record holder Alex Dowsett has announced that he is stepping back from World Tour racing at the end of the season, bringing to a close a 12-year-long stint at the highest level of professional cycling.
Since turning professional in 2011 for Team Sky, the 33-year-old from Essex has picked up 15 victories on the road, including six British time trial championships. In 2013, riding for the Spanish Movistar team, the time trial specialist won a gruelling 54.8km rolling race against the clock at the Giro d’Italia, ten seconds ahead of then-reigning Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins.
Seven years later, Dowsett repeated the trick at the Italian grand tour, this time in the colours of Israel Start-Up Nation (which he joined in the aftermath of Katusha-Alpecin’s collapse), with a rare victory on a road stage, attacking his breakaway companions to solo to what the British rider described at the time as a “career-saving” victory in Vieste.
In May 2015, Dowsett set a new UCI Hour Record of 52.937km, a mark that was surpassed a month later by Wiggins. Dowsett gave the Hour another crack in November last year but fell short of Victor Campenaerts’ then-benchmark of 55.089km, which has since been beaten by Britain’s Dan Bigham.
While suggesting earlier this year that he planned to continue on the World Tour scene for another two years, the 33-year-old confirmed yesterday that he was bringing the curtain down on his elite cycling career at the end of the season.
“I’m going to step out of the WorldTour, well, step out of pro cycling, from now,” he said in a video for his YouTube channel.
“I understand a couple of months ago I said I wanted two more years… It’s worth talking about what’s changed since then.
“This year I’ve gone through a period of the want to win something bigger than I previously won, or be better than I’ve previously been, has wavered somewhat and I’ve been more in a state of actually being happy with what I have achieved, being content with my work and achievements and success and application to my time in the World Tour.
“I feel it’s a very nice point to stop this chapter of my life and move forwards. I’m grateful actually that I get to bring this to a close on my terms. It's my decision, nothing’s been forced.”
In the video, the Israel Premier Tech rider said that, with another “waiting game” on the cards concerning a new contract for next season (a stressful facet of the professional life that Dowsett experienced before his 2020 Giro stage win), now was the time to “move on from this”.
While he is yet to fully divulge his plans for 2023, Dowsett has told VeloNews that along with coaching and working to improve other elite athletes’ performances (something the Essex rider has already dabbled in during his pro career, sometimes to his own detriment), he plans to continue racing time trials, crits and gravel events – though he insists he won’t become a “pro gravel racer”.
Dowsett celebrates winning the 2019 British time trial championships (Zac Williams/SWPix.com)
“Regardless of what we do, what I’m looking forward to is being on my own schedule. Because [being a pro cyclist] is tough, there’s a lot of time on the road,” he says in the video.
“I have a little girl, I have a family, and I spend an awful lot of time away from that family. And I’m looking forward to not doing that, and I’m looking forward to having a bit more control.
“I just feel like I’ve rinsed everything from myself at the World Tour. I don’t feel like there’s anything more to give at this level.
“And, for me, that’s a real nice point to call it a day and go and focus on… not on something else, because I’m still going to be on two wheels. I love it and I want to love different aspects of it. And that leaves me with a very exciting 2023.”
Dowsett, thought to be the only able-bodied athlete to have haemophilia, says he is most proud of his work with the haemophiliac community during his career. In 2016 he established the charity Little Bleeders, which supports children with the condition.
“I think the thing I’m most proud of in my career is the progress I’ve been able to make within the haemophiliac community,” he says.
“Just by being a haemophiliac and showing what a haemophiliac can do now. That’s something I want to have the capacity to take forwards and improve on next year.
“So, there’s going to be a lot more work there in helping the haemophiliac community and the rare disease community. I am in a position where I can help and I enjoy helping, and I feel I have a responsibility to help.”
Ryan joined road.cc as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.