Dowsett on edge of seat for place
IT'S the big decision time this week for London Olympic hopeful Mid Essex racing cyclist Alex Dowsett who will know whether he will be in Team GB for the world's biggest sporting event.
The former Brentwood Glendene Cycling Club rider is holding his breath as it should be this week that the long list of Team GB riders is cut down to a short list of eight before the final places are chosen later.
"I know I'm still improving and I know I can get to the level of fitness required for the Games," said Dowsett this week. "The team know what work I'm capable of doing from my races earlier in the year such as at Kuurne – Bruxelles – Kuurne.
"Being involved in someone else's accident couldn't have come at a worse time but I know that, in the circumstances I've done everything I can do so I guess the decision is really in the hands of the gods" he continued. "I just hope I'm given the benefit of the doubt."
Thirteen weeks after a season defining accident in Belgium, Great Baddow's Dowsett (Team Sky) returned to racing at last weekend's Tour of Luxembourg but still hopes that's he's done enough to secure a place in cycling's Team GB line-up for the Olympics.
After what seemed like a bruising but innocuous crash on the cobbles of West Flanders and eight weeks after having pins removed from his elbow, Dowsett finally got the call to return to racing duty mid-way through a week's training camp in the Swiss high mountains.
"The lesson I learned there was not to try riding 7,500ft up the Eiger on a road bike," he recalled painfully.
Alex was nearly slotted into Team Sky's squad for the recent Tour of Norway. "I wanted to go," he explained. "I was hoping that an early return to racing would boost my chances for the London Olympic selection but the team doctor sensibly said that I should be looking at my long-term health and safety".
But a chance to again come back on a race number came when Dowsett's team-mate Lars-Petter Nordhaug was unable to fill his place for Luxembourg and by then Alex was ready to go.
"It was great to be back with the boys racing, on the team bus and all that goes with that.
"But what you're quickly reminded is that whilst training is great, without regular racing you lose that final five per cent of your fitness and when the hammer goes down, that's what really counts".
The final result sheet will show that Alex didn't finish the five day race but he explained that there's more to racing than being included on that final list of riders.
"Because I hadn't raced for so long I just didn't have all the fitness required to be able to do what I'd been doing – what I'm capable of – before the crash. The team knew that so my job was to sit at the front and drive the bunch along in the early stages of each day's racing. I just didn't have the top end speed required to play a part in the lead out train for our two sprinters in Luxembourg."
Alex got through the first four days racing – in fact his finishing time for the opening 2.7km prologue was quicker than last year's corresponding stage – and that included the 205km Queen stage, stage three, that covered seven categorised climbs.
So how does Alex judge his return to racing?
"It was good and certainly a case of lessons learned. I've never had to struggle like I did in Luxembourg but that was good for me and puts me in good stead for races later in the year like the three week Vuelta a Espana.
" I know I can survive no matter how much of a battering I take".