Leigh Howard, one of Australia's most promising young sprint talents, will join GreenEdge in 2012. The 21-year-old, already a two-time Madison world champion, is another exciting prospect for the team as it continues to build on its mix of youth and experience. An in demand rider, Howard explained that the final decision to join GreenEdge was a carefully considered one.
"GreenEdge was always my first choice of team but I had a lot of offers on the table," Howard said. "With my long term career prospects as the number one priority, I wrote a pros-and-cons list for each of the teams I’d been approached by and GreenEdge came out on top."
The Australian is approaching the end of his second season in the professional ranks with HTC-Highroad, and despite enjoying his time with the team was forced to move on after the team announced in August that it would no longer be continuing.
Looking ahead, Howard is keen to continue his partnership with current teammate Matthew Goss, and relishes the chance to learn from sprint ace Robbie McEwen.
"I’ve spoken to Robbie a couple of times already about his involvement with the team next year and I think his role is going to benefit me a lot. Racing for the first half of the season will allow him to get a feel for what needs to be improved from seeing us first hand under race pressure.
"It’s going to be a big benefit for me."
A remarkable progression since 2009 has seen Howard come from dominating the domestic circuit in Australia to riding some of the biggest races in the world in 2011. Having just finished the Vuelta a Espana, where he had two top-5 stage finishes, Howard has high hopes for his future with GreenEdge.
"One of the big races I want to win at some stage is Milan - San Remo, which of course Matt Goss won this year," he said. "I’ll try and make the team for that race next year where we’ll be trying to get Gossy up for the win again and that would be a great learning experience for me. It’s a race I really want to win.
"I'm also aiming to get a start in the Tour de France in the next couple of years and become the main man for the flatter, faster bunch finishes."
Howard is on the long-list for the Australian team at UCI Road World Championships and will likely form a key part of the sprint-train for leader Matthew Goss.