Alex Howes: I'm looking to throw down in Olympic year

Procycling magazine Q&A with Cannondale-Garmin rider

This feature appears in the latest issue of Procycling. To subscribe to the magazine, click here.

If you’re only as good as your last race, US rider Alex Howes is very good indeed. The Coloradan ended a tough season with 12th place in the World Championships and he’s looking forward to bigger things in Olympic year.

Procycling: You were the top American in the World Championships road race in Richmond, Virginia, finishing 12th. Were you satisfied with that result after what's been a long, and at times, difficult season?

Alex Howes: I was really happy with my ride at the Worlds. I was hoping to go top-10 but that was always going to be a bit of a long shot. Finishing 12th, I was really proud of that. As a team we rode to our strengths and it was important to factor in such an important race on home soil.

Procycling: This season has been a demanding one for you with illness and injury disrupting your progress. What was the most difficult period for you and how did you bounce back?

AH: The first half of my season, to be honest, was disappointing. I had a lot of general life stress going on with moving apartment, a persistent knee injury and I kept on getting sick. I had a nasty cyst in my sinuses so every time I felt like I was getting moving again I'd be sick. By the time that cleared up it was the second half of the season and from there it went pretty well. I went to the Vuelta and that started well but then I crashed and had to limp through. It came together for me in the end and I was able to regain some form ahead of the Worlds. I guess if you're going to have a pretty crappy season and it's going to turn around for just one day, the Worlds is the day to have that good ride.

Procycling: What were your aims at the start of the year?

AH: The original plan was to ride the Tour but personally I had thoughts of using the Vuelta as Worlds preparation, so I wasn't totally disappointed to miss out on that. I wanted to have a better Ardennes but I was sick just before the first race, Amstel Gold. I ended up making the break but it was embarrassing how bad I was once I made it into the move. I wanted better than that from the campaign. Actually, the toughest point in the season was just after the Nationals and going into the Dauphiné. I got sick again and had some blood tests, which led to a week off the bike. I got healthy and rode Suisse, then got sick again and ended up missing the last time trial. Physically and mentally that was tough but I managed to go home and recharge the batteries.

Procycling: The 2015 season was somewhat of a transitional season for the Cannondale-Garmin team, with a number of riders coming and going. As someone who has been with the team for so long, do you feel the ethos has changed?

AH: I think the ethos has stayed the same but the personality of the team has changed. A few people are quite quick to point the finger at some of the Italians who came in but I think they were a great addition to what we had. The reality was that we threw out a lot of older guys and we were the youngest team in the WorldTour by a couple of years. We had a lot of kids out there who had never seen a pro bike race. That meant guys like me and Nathan Haas were the old hands and I've only been a pro for four years. That put more strain on guys like Dan Martin and Ryder Hesjedal to lead the team when what they should have been doing was going out there and getting results. It was a year of growth for a lot of guys on the team and we'll see how things change next year. We'll still be a young team and we'll have another transitional year but I think a lot of the guys are looking to turn the page and they're excited. I've seen a lot of motivation from the team for 2016 and I'm looking to throw down in what's going to be an Olympic year.

Procycling: What effect did the news of Tom Danielson's positive test for testosterone, which he announced on Twitter, have on the team?

AH: I don't know what to say about Tommy D at this point. We don't really know what's happened. However, what I can say from an internal point of view is that I've seen a real bump up in clean mentality. One of the main reasons so many guys sign with us is because they all believe in clean sport. This forced us to take a step back, redouble our efforts and make sure that happens. This wasn't just a blow to the team but it was a blow to the sport as a whole. It hurts all of us but like I said we're working double time to make it right.

This feature appears in the latest issue of Procycling. To subscribe to the magazine, click here.

Listen to David Millar talk about his career and Tom Danielson in the latest Cyclingnews podcast below. Click here to subscribe to The Cyclingnews Podcast.

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