Alex Dowsett is settling into the Movistar life after two years of Sky and years in the British system. On a cold and damp morning at the Tirreno-Adriatico, he looked forward to his first Grand Tour, the Giro d’Italia in May.

“I told the guys that I want to get experience in the big races, but I proved in 2011 that I can win smaller races,” Dowsett told Cycling Weekly.

“My calendar will be a mixture of the big races and then maybe a few small races that will suit my style, where the full team will back me.”

The 24-year-old from Essex took shelter under a nearby tree as he described his programme. On antibiotics, he simply wants to get through Tirreno-Adriatico. On the horizon is the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, with Circuit de la Sarthe in the middle.

Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEdge) won Sarthe last year. Being a strong time trial rider, Dowsett hopes to have his chance this time around.

“You’d say he’d settle in well given that team TT performance he’s had here in Tirreno-Adriatico. He’s learning the language and the culture in that team, I think he’ll gain a lot of experience,” Sky team principal David Brailsford said at the nearby team bus.

“It’s part of being an elite international sports person, you have to put yourself in that situation where you need to learn another language. That’s the way it always used to be, Brits going off to foreign teams.”

The Sky way

Dowsett signed for Spain’s Movistar team over the winter. It may seem like an odd fit, but he explained that the team is moving in the direction of Sky and many of the other modern teams.

“At the moment, my biggest challenge is learning the lingo. To be honest, though, there’s not as many differences as I thought there’d be. With the current culture of cycling with it being… clean, the gains are having to be made elsewhere,” added Dowsett.

“In the first meeting in Pamplona, the one thing I kept hearing was Sky, Froome, Wiggins… Every team now has to follow their [Sky's] lead. I think if I came to this team one year before, I would’ve seen a lot of differences but now that we have a new sports science depart that looking at getting the most out of all of us within the rules.”

Time trialling

Movistar pushed Omega Pharma-QuickStep for the stage win in Tirreno’s opening team time trial. Dowsett and Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas motored away with Giovanni Visconti, Juan José Cobo and the rest of the team.

Dowsett said that he hopes to arrive in San Benedetto del Tronto and test himself in the 9.2km time trial. However, his eyes are further down the road for the Circuit de la Sarthe and the Giro d’Italia, both with their share of opportunities.

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