Tour de France: Alex Dowsett says hopes of winning stage one are slim
Briton expects short individual time trial to be fiercely contested
By Matt Westby
Last Updated: 02/07/15 1:32pm
Alex Dowsett says winning the Tour de France's opening-stage individual time trial and taking the yellow jersey would be "career-defining" but admits his chances are slim.
The 26-year-old Briton is set to make his debut at cycling's most prestigious race after being selected by his Movistar team primarily to support leader Nairo Quintana.
However, Dowsett will be free to bid for victory on Saturday's first stage, which will test the riders on a flat but technical 13.8km course around the Dutch city of Utrecht.
Dowsett specialises in time trials and won the British national championship for the fourth time last week, but he is more suited to distances of 40km or longer and also fears the pool of potential winners will be larger than usual.
"Winning stage one and taking the yellow jersey would be career-defining," Dowsett, who won a time trial at the 2013 Giro d'Italia, told Sky Sports. "If that is all you had on your CV, you could be more than satisfied.
"It's not out of the question. I think you will likely still see the [time-trial] specialists at the sharp end of the results list, but the problem with a short time trial is a lot more riders become a threat and would be motivated for it.
"Certainly, the sprinters and classics riders would all be able to deliver a strong prologue, so I think it will be a closely fought battle. I will attack it as hard as I can, as always."
Dowsett was due to make his Tour debut last year, when the Grand Depart took place in England and passed close to his home in Essex, but illness ruled him out in the week before the race started.
It was a bitter blow and although he has the chance to make up for lost time over the next three weeks, the former Team Sky rider admits the disappointment is still raw.
The former UCI Hour Record holder added: "Riding this year doesn't really make up for missing last year. It will still be a monumental thing to have missed the UK start of the Tour de France, as it was so big.
"I would say I was more ready for it last year than I am this year, as it was my sole season focus and I got very unlucky with sickness. This year I have had the successful hour record campaign and then a pretty short turnaround time to be ready for the Tour, so I'm a bit surprised to be here. But I'll be giving it my all, as ever.
"If someone told me back when I was 13 that I would be starting the Tour de France, I think I would have laughed at them. It has been a major goal since turning pro."
Dowsett is likely to be a valuable team-mate to Quintana in stage nine’s team time trial, but he is also hoping to contribute to the Colombian’s bid for the yellow jersey elsewhere.
He said: "I'm here basically to help our general classification guys' positioning on the flat, especially when things start getting chaotic in the last 20km or ahead of a climb or any key part of the race.
"I will be needed to keep them up at the front, out of trouble and well positioned to attack the race."
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