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“There’s highs and lows. Sometimes you get excited, but when you’re in the middle of it, you’re always thinking, ‘What can I do better?’ You always want more, more, more," Howes said.

Photo: Henriette Brandt

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06.11.2014 @ 09:30 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

Alex Howes hasn’t exactly stunned the world of cycling with his 2014 season results-wise, but certainly continued making a gradual progress, slowly maturing into a rider he’s been always expected to become. As the Garmin-Sharp manager’s very favorite, what was emphasized by being provided with a three-year contract extension as the only rider in the squad, the 26-year old American confessed to be pleased with recent development in his career and emphasized his will to make a next step forward in Ardennes classics next year.

 

“There’s highs and lows. Sometimes you get excited, but when you’re in the middle of it, you’re always thinking, ‘What can I do better?’ You always want more, more, more. I would definitely call it a success. I was pretty happy with it,” Howes told VeloNews.

 

It took Howes almost for seasons of riding at the WorldTour level to eventually claim his career’s first professional victory, but it shouldn’t be by any means regarded surprising as the 26-year old was groomed by Jonathan Vaughters into his future duties without any unnecessary pressure.

 

Asked about the biggest highlight of his 2014 season, the Garmin-Sharp rider obviously pointed out to that victory, claimed on a home ground at the US Pro Challenge.  

 

“It’s gotta be stage 7 in Colorado [Which Howes won, —Ed.]. I mean Colorado was the high point in general. Just being home is nice. Yeah. First pro win, so, that’a a good thing. A little confirmation there.”

 

It was also a year of his Tour de France debut, which he managed to finish despite a huge setback Garmin-Sharp had suffered in dramatically losing their leader Andrew Talansky.

 

“It was a big sense of relief. It’s the Tour. Eveybody has ups and downs, but we had a lot of ups and downs. We lost [Andrew] Talansky there. That kind of screwed up our whole plan. That was the plan. And then to pull off that win with Ramunas [Navardauskas], that was a big deal. A good team effort that day. Just getting through it all with no big injuries or any major crashes.”

 

Reflecting on the upcoming 2015 season, Howes admitted he would like to push his career a further step forward and finally leave his own mark in the Ardennes classics. The 26-year old American is perfectly aware, however, that with specialists in likes of Tom-Jelte Slagter and Daniel Martin in the squad he’s going to need a lot of elements to fall into right places to chase his own success in the hilly one-day events.

 

“I’m going to start off earlier. If I want to do what I think I can do in the Ardennes, I need to get up, get outta North America before January. So it’ll either be Down Under or Argentina. I’m kind of leaning toward Down Under.”

 

“Honestly I don’t know, but I know I can do better,” Howes said about the next spring classics campaign. “I haven’t done poorly there. It’s hard to really stand out on Garmin right now, on that Ardennes squad. We’ve got Tom-Jelte Slagter. Dan Martin, he’s pretty good. [Ryder] Hesjedal. So …”

 

Commenting on the still enigmatic merger with Cannondale, the Garmin-Sharp rider revealed that he has a very slight idea on how the new team will eventually look like.

 

“To be honest with you I don’t know. At this point I’m still not totally sure how many of those guys we’ve picked up. I’ve been pretty off the radar as far as communication with anyone goes. But I might have to learn a few words in Italian. We’ll see.”

 

World Championships held in Richmond will be another huge objective for Howes next season. The 26-year old American admitted that he feels a strong need to improve on his result obtained in this year’s road race event.

 

“Honestly I’ve always felt pressure to do well at worlds. It’s one of my favorite events of the year and having it on home soil is definitely going to be a big deal. This year I really felt like I, not necessarily underperformed, but the results didn’t match what I was capable of. So you give it another year. Continue to grow a little bit. Maybe I don’t fall down next year, things go a little differently. But we’ll be there, guns blazin’, fists swingin’.”

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