It’s been an extraordinary roller coaster of a season for Alex Dowsett with highs low, illness and a couple of nasty crashes to contend with but the Movistar Team rider is still hoping to go out on a positive note.

Dowsett, who was in the leader's jersey at the Tour of Britain with two stages to go last year after his epic break on the Bath to Hemel Hempstead stage, is back for another pot at the title this time around while he is also eying up the Word Championships in Richmond Virginia with serious intent.
""Barring accidents he will be a key man in the Movistar Team line-up while he has ambitions do well in the Individual Time Trial and would like to be considered for the Great Britain road race team as well.
"It' been a topsy turvy year but that seems to sum up my career at present," admits Dowsett. "I'm either right up there with the very best of them or I'm absolutely useless. For whatever reason – illness, injury or just old fashioned poor form – there seems to be no in between with me. I want to start building some season long consistency into my career.
"You live and learn. I wouldn't swap my short time as holder of the Hour Record earlier this year for anything – my name goes alongside an incredible role of honour – but if I get to ride the Tour again I would make that the big focus of the season. I came out of the Hour campaign nearly 5kg heavier – track muscle – than was ideal and although I surprised myself by winning Bayern Rundfahrt I knew there was a load of work that needed doing. I went off to Majorca to ride the mountains in the heat to try and get really road fit but I was playing catch-up."

Dowsett is a little hard on himself. Bad luck and crashes played a considerable part and although they are part of racing their disruptive effect has to be factored in. Early in the year that successful Hour campaign had been delayed for seven weeks by a broken collarbone. In the original ‘masterplan’ there was going to be a much bigger block of road racing before the Tour de France but rarely can you have your cake and eat in sport.  Best laid plans and all that.
""His Tour de France meanwhile was seriously compromised by a bad crash on Stage Four that eventually saw Dowsett abandon on Stage 12, the last of the Pyrenean trilogy. And even then on his comeback last month he went down with a bad stomach bug at the Tour of Poland and had to abandon before an Individual Time Trial that he very much liked the look of. 
It’s the Tour crash and injury that still really grates though as Dowsett explains: "If it had been any other race I would have abandoned straight away but in the Tour medical advice goes straight out of the window. You only really abandon the moment you are physically unable to ride. Doing the sensible or logical thing doesn't really come into it, we have seen that hundreds of times in the race's history and again this year with Adam Hansen, Michael Matthews and others.
"Many riders have devoted the best part of a year preparing for this one race and with me it was also that desire to do the job I had been picked for. I was there for a specific purpose in the first nine days or ten days. Movistar are so packed with great climbers there was no great pressure for me to last much beyond that but there was a massive emphasis on me personally on that first phase of the race.

"Given that to be at barely 60-70% after the injury on day four was incredibly frustrating. I think I showed on Stage Two that I was in good form and riding well on those technical stages. When the cross winds happened that day and split everything up I was up there at the front with Nairo. Then suddenly there was a central reservation, Nairo was on the right and I was on the left.  We turned into the wind, it was complete chaos, and the next time I looked over Nairo wasn’t there.
"The crash came from nowhere but they usually do to be honest. You can ride in the correct approved fashion, up the front end, staying alert, taking no risks, and still end up in a bloody heap in the ditch!

"I had Valverde and Nairo on my wheel and things were getting very stressed that day leading up to the second section of cobbles. There was a quick left right and I was on the right hand side of the road. Someone – don’t know who – got it wrong three wheels ahead of me and that had a knock on effect and just shoved me off the road into a nasty gravel pavement full off sharp stones. Had it been a grassy bank I might have managed to bunny hop up or at least it would have been a soft landing, but when I went down on the gravel it wasn’t nice.
"The first thing i did was to look around and see if Nario and Valverde had been taken down as well and fortunately they hadn't. I felt really awful about everything but Alejandro saw the entire incident and quickly told everybody in the bus afterwards that I had absolutely no where to go and no blame attached which helped a little. It's just that random element of cycling, you can take great pains with preparations, equipment, the marginal gains side of things but the bottom line is that anything can happen.”

As the only haemophiliac in the professional peloton Dowsett has to take special care with bad cuts but insists it wasn't a problem on this occasion: "My normal medication gets me up to 60% of the clotting levels of a non-haemophiliac and after a big spill I take extra medication in the short term to take me up to 100%. In theory it doesn’t really make any difference although as my doctor said when I got home it certainly wouldn’t have helped.
"It was swollen and uncomfortable and the actual cut was quite awkward, which was the biggest problem. It was a sort of a triangular and very difficult to stitch at one of the corners so it wasn't bonding or healing. It was washed constantly and wasn’t infected but it seems there was still a little bit of gravel in there somewhere and your body is a complex and clever thing, it won’t start the healing process until any foreign bodies are removed. We got that sorted on the first rest day and re-stitched the wound but I was pretty far gone by then and on a downward spiral heading into the mountains."


Above – On the attack during Stage Six with Matthias Brandle and Tom Stewart (obscured), riding himself into the Yellow Jersey in Hemel Hempstead
Happily there is now the opportunity to finish on a high note at the Aviva Tour of Britain and then the World Championships where he likely to feature prominently for Movistar in the TTT while the Individual Time Trial remains a big objective and he also has hopes of winning a place in the GB squad for the road race.
"""I'm biased naturally but I'm a bit disappointed there is no time trial in the Tour of Britain," says Dowsett. "I think in an eight day race of nearly 1,400km there should always be some sort of TT, even if it’s a relatively short ten mile sort of course. Also for the fans it would have been good to see Brad in is rainbow jersey and me taking him on as the British National champion.
"Having said that I’m delighted its coming back to East Anglia and you just know even before its starts that it will be another manically ridden race. Last year's event was just so hard. I’m not surprised that Kwiatkowski and Wiggins moved straight on from the race to win their World Championships.

“With that big summit finish on Hartside on Day Five the GC might be out of range this year so I might have to target one or two stages but let's not ride the race before it started. Anything can happen in the Tour of Britain and often does. There are frequent and quite unexpected shifts in the GC picture as we saw last year.
"One thing I do know in advance is that it will be great preparation for the Worlds. In fact it was so hard ridden last year I should have allowed myself two or three days complete rest afterwards. I didn’t and to be frank I could still feel in my legs and still felt a bit sluggish when we raced at the Worlds in Spain. 

“This year it will be feet up and then it’s a case of getting over to the USA. I have done a lot of travelling to and from the States and it’s not normally too big of a factor going west, its coming back it can hit you for a few days. I'm looking forward to it and there is an extra incentive to go well in the Time Trial because if a British rider can run in the top ten it will earn us an extra start place at the Rio Olympics next year.”

You can read more from Alex Dowsett in a  special article by Rouleur, sponsors of the Rouleur Combativity Award in the Aviva Tour of Britain in the Official Programme, which will be on sale for £5 at all stages.

Alex Dowsett is supporting the launch of Aviva’s My First Bike Campaign, which gives local families in eight locations along the 2015 Aviva Tour of Britain route the chance to win a brand new children’s bike. For the chance to win, visit @AvivaUK on Twitter.