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"Also competing in Utah for Orica-GreenEDGE, I got to meet a lot of the guys and learn about the difference between under 23 racing and the top level of the sport so I am very excited for next year and I am up for the next level of my...


Photo: Sirotti




23.09.2013 @ 18:23 Posted by Emil Axelgaard, Florence

Damien Howson reached his big target when he won the U23 world time trial championships in dominant fashion. Having signed a one-year contract with Orica-GreenEDGE, the Australian has now set his sights on a future in the pro ranks and feels that he is ready to take the next step.


Ever since finishing 3rd behind Anton Vorobyev and Rohan Dennis in 2012, Damien Howson has been focused on taking that elusive Worlds title. Today he nailed it with a dominant ride through the streets of Florence, relegating Yoann Paillot and Lasse Norman Hansen to the minor places.


That ability to focus on a clear objective was one of the main factors in today's win.


"I don't think there are any secrets," he said. "It was a hard, fast course with strong rivals. It was a tough ask to come away with the rainbow jersey. Since the Worlds in Limburg, I have been very focused on this objective and I am very pleased with my performance today and with coming away with the win."


With Vorobyev and Dennis now in the pro ranks, Howson was the natural favourite for today's race. He coped well with the pressure and continued the recent Australian dominance of the U23 time trialing scene.


"I think part of bike racing is always a lot of pressure," he said. "I've always put a lot of pressure on myself. Ever since the world championships last year I was focused on this day. Whether I was favourite or not, I was quite nervous at the start but I knew that if I had a perfect ride, I would always have a chance to be on the podium."


Howson did a solid ride from start to finish. Being less than a second down on Norman Hansen at the first check, he put time into the Dane on the remaining part of the course to eventually win by a 57-second margin.


"I go into every time trial and try to maintain a constant pace from start to finish," he said. "Today I think I was able to do that. I can't really compare myself to others at different time checks. I think some people are stronger at set parts of the race. I just have to do the best I can do. I was told that I was on a good ride today. I was happy with my ride and don't think I could have done a better time trial."


Howson got the chance to ride against the best riders in the Tour Down Under in January when he was selected for the Australian national team. He recently signed a contract with Orica-GreenEDGE for next season and rode as a stagiaire for his new team in the Tour of Utah.


Asked by, he explains that this kind of experience makes him confident that he is ready to take the next step.


"Obviously, I was very happy to sign a contract with Orica-GreenEDGE for 2014," he said. "Starting my year in the Santos Tour Down Under, I had a chance to ride against all the WorldTour teams and get a taste of the WorldTour as well. Also competing in Utah for Orica-GreenEDGE, I got to meet a lot of the guys and learn about the difference between under 23 racing and the top level of the sport so I am very excited for next year and I am up for the next level of my career."


When he signed his contract, he made it clear that he wants to developed into a grand tour contender. While his future team is a successful one, it has always given GCs in stage races less priority and so it may not seem to be the natural fit for a stage racer in the making.


However, the team has plans to change its focus in the future and has taken the first small step by signing climbers like Ivan Santaromita and Johan Esteban Chaves. With Howson still needing time to grow, he feels that the team will be able to support him when the time is right.


"I think it's going to take many years to be up there with the best riders in the grand tours," he told CyclingQuotes after the post-race press conference. "I am going to start off with focusing on the smaller tours. I think not being known for its GC riders means that hopefully I can one day walk into that position. We have to see how the team progresses over the coming years. Being Australian and going to an Australian team, I couldn't be happier. I think it's a great team. We'll see how the future comes up."


Howson has now set his sights on Friday's road race. You can read more about his expectations in a later article.



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