Monday, February 26, 2024

Douglas Dewey – “Because Belgium is the Best!”


HomeInterviewsDouglas Dewey - "Because Belgium is the Best!"

Ponder this — it was our colleague Viktor who pointed out to us that a certain Jack Bauer was burning up the kermises in Flanders, a year or two ago. We caught up with Jack via Ian Whitehead at the Kingsnorth team in Gent and did a couple of interviews with New Zealand’s finest. Brian Smith read the interviews, got in touch with Jack and signed him for the fledgling Endura team. After two seasons with the Scottish team Jack has moved upwards and onwards to Garmin. Vik’s latest nod to us was regarding an Englishman, Douglas Dewey.

Douglas Dewey
Doug won the British U23 TT Championship. Photo Richard Maidment.

Douglas won the British U23 time trial championships last season, but the other week he pulled off a major win in Belgium — Gent Staden, the first major amateur classic of the year.

The race dates back to 1949 and numbers Walter Godefroot, Eddy Planckaert and Michel Pollentier among past winners.

We caught up with Douglas over the weekend — he was third in a kermis on Sunday — and here’s what he had to say to us:

Douglas Dewey
Doug is enjoying life in Belgium. Photo©Katrien Quartier.

Gent Staden, a big win… congratulations Doug – tell us how you did it, please.

“Yeah probably one of my biggest yet.

“It was a great feeling when I knew I had it, which wasn’t until the last 500m because the bunch was snapping at my heels.

“I was in the break of 11 or so which went early in the race.

“I attacked solo as the gap to the bunch was coming down pretty quickly.

“It was still about 23k to the finish so I was thinking someone would come with me, but no-one did, so I put my head down.”

You must have ‘wintered well?’

“Yeah, it was my first winter with my coach Jon Sharples of TrainSharp, and my first winter of training effectively with power.

“It has helped me make huge advances physically.

“The day-to-day support of Jon is invaluable and the measured suffering has made me into a new rider.”

Tell us a little about your power outputs in Gent Staden.

“I had my race wheels in so I don’t actually know, annoyingly!”

You won in Belgium in 2011, too.

“Yeah I got a couple of thirds and top ten placings; and then finally I won a Kermis!

“I was really hungry for it because I knew I was strong enough, it was just waiting for things to go my way on the day.

“It was really nice to attack my breakaway companions and win alone.”

Douglas Dewey
Doug “winning” in the British Road Champs. The others “cheated” by overtaking him. Photo©Neil Hendry.

Why Belgium, not France or Italy?

“Because Belgium is the best!

“There are so many high quality races and teams, and all the racing history here is amazing.

“I love the style of attacking racing and the notoriously tough terrain with the wind and cobbles.

“Also my GWR Team helped me get a link with my current Belgian team Terra Footwear – Bicycle Line.”

It must have been hard fitting training around a master’s degree?

“Yeah it wasn’t always easy, particularly in the final year or two.

“I sacrificed quite a lot when it came to choosing between riding and doing anything else (like having a social life).

“I managed to keep my girlfriend happy somehow though!”

Why in engineering?

“I’ve always been interested in building things and I quite like maths, but I got a bit sick of parrot learning by the end of it.”

Which team are you with; what’s the level of support like, bike, clothing and travel?

“Terra Footwear – Bicycle Line, a fairly small Belgian outfit.

“The support is very good, a whole world better than Britain.

“They take us to all the races; give us bikes for the year and a load of kit.”

Douglas Dewey
The Terra Footware team.

How does your 2012 programme look?

“Pretty insane.

“We’re doing 10 stage races across France, Belgium and Germany I think, as well as a load of Top Competition races and UCI level races.

“I did Vlaamse Pijl today which is a UCI 1.2, I believe.”

Where’s ‘home’ in Belgium?

“We’re staying at the team manager, Andrew’s house near Kortrijk at the moment, but soon we’ll move to our own six person annex in Oetegem.”

What do you do with your Belgian ‘down time?’

“Wash cycling kit mostly!

“Not so much yet, we still haven’t settled in completely.

“I like drinking coffee and reading a bit so that’s good to do when you don’t have any training to do and you’re knackered.

“I talk to my girlfriend as much as I can too; it’s the least I can do seen as I’m out the country!”

Douglas Dewey
Tom (centre) is suited to the Flemish style of racing. Photo©Lindsey Ameye.

Are you managing to avoid the frites and mayo?

“Yeah, it’s not so much of a temptation at the moment.

“You have to eat so much sometimes that food loses the appeal.”

You qualified fourth fastest in the British pursuit champs – is the GB individual/team pursuit route a possibility? I believe Chris Newton has spoken to you?

“Ha ha, good question!

“I was happy with how that went; it was a nice end to the season.

“Chris spoke to me and said he was impressed and to contact him about doing some training with the pursuit squad.

“I spoke to him a few times but disappointingly nothing came of it.”

Douglas Dewey
Doug won the South West Road Championship.

How did you get into cycling?

“My brother was European Duathlon champion for his age group and came second at the World championships – I used to love going mountain biking with him.”

Who inspires you in the sport?

“Anyone who can make a living doing what they love inspires me.

“I like attacking riders like Chavanel and I have so much respect for the top riders who can be at the top of their game again and again like Cancellara at the Classics.”

What’s the Somerset cycling scene like and how does it compare to Belgium?

“It’s not bad, and it’s getting better with a lot of effort from local organisers like Anna Ellington and Team Tor 2000 but it’s no comparison really.

“Belgium has so many races and so many good riders.”

What’s the ultimate goal for you?

“To enjoy the sport, turn pro, and win a load of races!”

And what’s your favourite song at the kermises?

“So many good tunes at the moment, but I recently got Maverick Sabre’s album and it’s great.

“I like Redlight’s ‘get out of my head’ too.”

[We think he misunderstood that one, rather than on his iPod we were thinking more of the tunes you listen to when hanging over the barriers with your frites and pils — never mind!]

With thanks to Doug and wishing him well for the rest of the season — the next Jack Bauer?

Time will tell.

And thanks go to Vik for putting us on the trail.