After more than a decade in the pro peloton, time is nearly up for British racer Alex Dowsett. The Israel-Premier Tech rider broke the news of his decision to step away from the WorldTour on his personal YouTube channel in late August.Alex Dowsett retires from pro cycling
“I didn’t think releasing that would be as significant as it was,” he told Cyclingnews on the opening day of the Tour of Britain. “It becomes very final and it was emotional. I was blown away by the response,” he said.
So, what’s next for the 33-year-old? “The plan is to still race, certainly still on two wheels, but other stuff – not UCI stuff,” he said.
Dabbling in gravel racing is on his to-do list. “It’s something I want to try and see what it’s like,” he said. “I wouldn’t sit here and say I’m going to be a gravel pro though, I’ve never done it and it would be arrogant of me to say it.”
“I just want to go and explore other aspects to racing. I’ve seen other sides to the cycling world and there’s a lot more out there than the WorldTour. While I’ve got a few more years of being a pretty good athlete, I want to go and try those bits and pieces.”
He is also working on a project with a clothing maker. “A really exciting project is working on a new TT suit for a company, trying to make the fastest skinsuit in the world,” he said.
Additionally, the Essex man intends to do more racing on the British time trial scene, where he cut his teeth as a teenager. “From a place of love,” he says. “I dreamed of winning things like the National 10 and 25 as a kid, not thinking I might end up having the career I’ve had. As a junior, it was all about maybe one day being able to beat Michael Hutchinson. That was the pinnacle.”
Dowsett turned pro with Team Sky in 2011 and has raced for Movistar, Katusha Alpecin and Israel-Premier Tech in his career. One of the world’s best against the clock, he has 15 wins to his name, including six British national titles and two Giro d’Italia stages: a time trial in 2013 and a road stage in 2020.
“You take the journey for granted when you’re in it, how important that is,” he reflected. “Every time I’ve had a win, I’ve been like ‘that’s cool, now I’ve got to work out how to win the next big thing.’ You don’t really enjoy it,” he said.
“I think the races you don’t expect to win are the real big ones. Like that 2020 [Giro] stage, it was pretty mind-blowing. I like maths and when I won there, on the basis I win a road race every decade, I thought ‘this is going to be my last one, most likely, so I’m gonna bloody well enjoy it!’”
His personal career highlights are the two Hour Record attempts in 2015 and 2021. “Not just for their prestige, but certainly the second one for what it did for the haemophilia community – and actually, what my whole career has done for that.” The first was a then-world best, the second came up short of Victor Campenaerts’ mark but raised £55,000 for charities Little Bleeders and The Haemophilia Society. Dowsett is the world’s only known elite sportsperson who has the rare blood condition.
When it comes to the next stage of his career, the charismatic racer had been toying with stepping away all year. “As the year went on, I felt a bit of a change where I no longer thought I could achieve more than what I have done,” he says. “With that, I became proud of what I have achieved and that seemed like the best time to step away and do something else.”
“The idea of doing something else excites me more than staying in the WorldTour, in professional racing. It made it a very easy decision.” Dowsett had spoken to some teams, but he didn’t “feel any excitement” from them to take him on: “I knew it was going to be another waiting game, so I said let’s call it.”
The Tour of Britain is an apt final stage race for Dowsett. “I’ve got a lot of history here, this is my eleventh Tour of Britain. Only Mark Cavendish has done more,” he said.
“I’ve had lots of success here, which has been nice, leader’s jersey [in 2014] and stage win [in 2011]. I’ve, at times, been a protagonist of the race and I have real fond memories racing in front of home crowds here,” he said. “I always enjoy how my international teammates are surprised in a good way at the level of support there is out on the UK roads.”