Alex Dowsett, a high-achieving athlete who succeeded at pro cycling while also managing hemophilia, has decided to depart the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) WorldTour.
“I feel like I’ve achieved everything that I can within the WorldTour, within professional cycling at this level. But I’ve also witnessed life outside of pro cycling and that’s filled me with excitement,” he said in his retirement announcement on YouTube.
He’s won stages at some of the most iconic races, two at the Giro d’Italia and one in the Tour of Poland, as well as six first place medals in the British national time-trial championships. Arguably his most notable performance is when he set the UCI Hour Record in 2015.
Dowsett, of the United Kingdom, plans to spend additional time with family, help others go faster in the sport and contribute even more to the rare disease community, where he stands out as a role model. He previously founded an organization for children with bleeding disorders called Little Bleeders.
“I think the thing I’m most proud of in my career is the stamp I’ve left, and the progress I’ve been able to make within the hemophilia community just by being a hemophiliac and showing what a hemophiliac can do now,” Dowsett said. “And that’s something I want to have the capacity to take forwards and improve upon next year. So, there’s going to be a lot more work there in helping the hemophilia community and the rare disease community.”
Dowsett, of the United Kingdom, was a toddler when his parents learned he had severe hemophilia A with almost no clotting factor VIII. Like others with the rare disease, he would bruise easily, so contact sports were off the table.
He was steered mostly towards swimming until the age of 13 when, according to Cyclist Magazine, he had the opportunity to try a road bike, that’s when preparation and opportunity aligned to spark a career in cycling.
“I was so fortunate that Mum and Dad took my condition by the horns so to speak, and right from an early age I was being taken to swimming lessons, sailing lessons, basketball and everything in between that would keep me active in a way that respected my condition,” he said on his foundation’s website, Little Bleeders. “Swimming helped my mobility and improved my lung capacity and I always attest that’s why the transition to cycling in my teen years was so successful.”