At first Alex Dowsett didn’t succeed
But he knows the saying. After a double puncture did for his chances of taking the overall lead earlier in the race, Dowsett tried again and this time things went rather better.
Dowsett is unarguably the finest haemophiliac cyclist Essex has ever produced, but other than a Giro d’Italia time trial, a trio of triumphs in the same discipline at the national championships and the Commonwealth Games title, he hasn’t had an enormous amount to show for it. This might now change because after being part of The Break They Couldn’t Reel In he has secured himself a sizeable 34 second lead in the Tour of Britain.
How did it happen?
Blame ‘rolling roads’ – which is what the cycling world calls difficult terrain that doesn’t feature major climbs. Personally, I find rolling roads far harder than proper mountain passes and it seems that in this case, so did the peloton. Maybe they thought it was flatter and they could just swoop in and catch the break towards the end, but what actually happened is that they started to look more and more tired while the break stayed strong.
There were actually only two other guys away with Dowsett – Matthias Brandle, who won the previous stage, and Tom Stewart, a Doncaster rider whose tagline on his Madison Genesis team’s website is: “Huge engine, consistent.” It was a strong trio and perhaps they never should have been allowed away in the first place.
In the end, Brandle won the sprint, achieving the fairly rare feat of winning multiple stages within the same race, despite not being a sprinter or a climber. But it was Dowsett who was the big winner.
With two first category climbs in the closing kilometres, this should be another exciting stage and at 226.5km, a hard one too.