• Dowsett has called his Tour selection 'the greatest comeback in cycling history' (Getty Images)
Former UCI Hour record holder Alex Dowsett has labelled his selection for the Tour de France as “the greatest comeback in cycling history” ahead of the Grand Depart on Saturday.
Sophie Smith

2 Jul 2015 - 11:13 AM  UPDATED 2 Jul 2015 - 11:17 AM

The 26-year-old received a phone call the night before the Movistar team, led by overall contender Nairo Quintana, was announced on Monday.

“It’s funny, last year I would say I was much better prepared than I am this year but last year I got ill at the last moment. This year, in terms of the Tour de France, I’ve made the best of a bad situation and seem to have scraped myself in. I wasn’t in the 13-rider pre-selection just after the Dauphine so it was the greatest comeback in cycling history I’d say,” Dowsett told Cycling Central.

“Just after nationals I messaged the boss and said, ‘can you just give me a rough idea because if I’m going then I won’t do the national road race’. I had sat down the coaches and decided that training over three or four days would be more beneficial for the Tour than going and smashing my head in for one day [at nationals] and then needing a stretcher to take me home.

"The boss said just after the national time trial, ‘you know, we’re fairly sure you’re going, so train as if you are going to the Tour de France’. I skipped the road race and they confirmed it Sunday night.”

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The 2014 Commonwealth Games time trial gold medallist and current UK time trial national champion is the only native English-speaking rider on the Movistar Tour team after Australian Rory Sutherland was passed over for selection. Movistar has a multitude of lithe high mountain climbers and is set to employ Dowsett as a ‘bodyguard’ in flat stages and hectic finales.

 They’re not taking me to go uphill well,” he said. “On the climbs it’s down to the climbers to help our GC guys.”

Dowsett spent the early part of the season focusing on the UCI Hour Record, which he held prior to Bradley Wiggins setting in a new benchmark in London in June.  This meant fewer racing days than previous years but he still won a stage and overall honours at Bayern Rundfahrt in May, and a career fourth national time trial title in June.

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His focus on the UCI Hour Record was inadvertently advantageous to his Tour selection bid too.

“I don’t know where it has come from, maybe it’s the track speed from the Hour Record, but in the last 10km [of a race] I found it quite easy to stay up in the top 20 all the time, ride next to a lead-out train and sit there at 500-ish watts just to keep the GC guy up the front. That is quite a valuable skill.” he said.

“I can do a decent team time trial but the time trial in the Tour isn’t significant enough to warrant taking people specifically for that.”

Results and favourable indications aside, he remains modest ahead of his debut at cycling’s biggest race.

“It’s the Tour de France, it’s just everyone on their A Game,” he said. “I’m on my B-and-a-half game currently but I’m good at that last 10km so will fight my way through it.”