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Alex Dowsett retires from top-level professional cycling

The six-time British time trial champion says the decision to step back from World Tour racing is “on my terms”, and that his future is “still going to be on two wheels”

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.

> "I love the time trial but crossing the line first in a road race... there's nothing quite like it," says Alex Dowsett

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.”

> Alex Dowsett misses out on reclaiming UCI Hour record

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”.

Alex Dowsett after winning 2019 TT nat champs (picture Zac Williams, SWPix.com)

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.”

> Alex Dowsett posts record-breaking 25-mile time trial to Strava

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 in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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3 comments

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TrevA | 1 year ago
1 like

I've followed Alex's career since he was 14. He's the same age as my son and they used to race against each other as Youths and Juniors. Good luck Alex, hopefully we might see more of you racing on home roads from now on.

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PRSboy | 1 year ago
2 likes

Enjoy your next chapters Alex. You're a gent, and you've been an inspiration. 

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Jem PT replied to PRSboy | 1 year ago
1 like
PRSboy wrote:

Enjoy your next chapters Alex. You're a gent, and you've been an inspiration. 

I met Alex recently and he is indeed a true gent. Best wishes for your future plans, Alex!

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