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Howard happy with second place in Oman sprint

Stephen Farrand
February 19, 00:41,
February 19, 00:44
First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Tour of Oman
Leigh Howard (Orica GreenEdge) leads the young rider classification after stage 1 in Oman

Leigh Howard (Orica GreenEdge) leads the young rider classification after stage 1 in Oman

  • Leigh Howard (Orica GreenEdge) leads the young rider classification after stage 1 in Oman
  • Cameron meyer and Leigh Howard were just to strong for the rest of the field to win the Australian Madison Championships.
  • Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) wins the opening stage in Oman ahead of Leigh Howard (Orica GreenEdge) and Nicola Ruffoni (Bardiani CSF)

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Young Australia shows his form four years after his first ever professional win

Leigh Howard (Orica-GreenEdge) took his first ever professional victory at the 2010 Tour of Oman and showed his 2014 sprinting form with an impressive second place behind Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) in Naseem Garden.

Howard beat Daniele Bennati, Tom Boonen and Tyler Farrar back in 2010 and got the better of Boonen and Bennati again four years later.

"I'm pretty happy with that because it's my first sprint of the season," Howard told Cyclingnews before heading to the podium to collect the best young rider's white jersey.

"I did the Tour of Qatar but it was my first race of the season and we did the majority of the work for Aidis Kruopis, because he was going really well. Now I'm the only sprinter here, the boys looked after me all day and did a good job keeping me up in the finale."

Howard was looking forward to seeing his sprint on video, convinced he had the speed to take on and perhaps beat Greipel.

"I did everything I could but it's always hard when you're trying to take on André," he conceded.

"Unfortunately I was third wheel, which is normally a good position. But this time I would have preferred to lay off him and take a run at it because I felt really good. I'm sure the video of the sprint will show that I was on a par with him on speed."

"I love this race"

This year's Tour of Oman includes two more stages that suit Howard's talents. His past as a world champion on the track in the Omnium and the Madison have given him the natural speed and bike handling skills need to be well placed in the sprints. He can also climb better than many of his sprinting rivals, allowing him to contest stage finishes that include hilly finale.

Wednesday's second stage from Al Bustan to Quriyat is expected to finish in a sprint thanks to the flat final 15 kilometres, and the final stage on the Muscat Corniche ends on a fast finishing circuit. Howard could also be in contention on stage three to Al Bustan. The finale includes the roller coaster roads of Al Jissah and Peter Sagan won a similar stage last year with a solo attack. The sprinters finished just 11 seconds behind him.

I just hope to have another go at Greipel tomorrow (Wednesday) and then see how the rest of the race goes," Howard said.

"I've got good memories from here. And if you're in a good mind space, you always race better. If you're not feeling great or don't want to be at a certain race, then you're never going to race as good. But I love this race because was my first ever pro victory happened here. It's great to come back again and do well in my first sprint."

dirkprovin 5 months ago
This year is a "shape up or ship out" one for Howard. With the exception of his early season last year in the Mallorca series, his formline at OGE when given the responsibility of being "the man" is one of profoundly disappointing results AND a capacity to throw in the towel when things aren't going well. Either he knuckles down and produces results befitting a good 2nd level sprinter (which is probably his ceiling) OR shows a capacity to develop into a class lead-out man ..... or its out of OGE and most probably out of the World Tour
bike_boy 5 months ago
Yeah his form while at OGE hasn't been very good. I can see them doing a good clean out at the end of the year. I hope Leigh steps up.
Pedal Pusher 5 months ago
What does, "being the man" mean. I don't think its about knuckling down - anyone who achieves 2 World championships in the Madison with Cam Meyer in 2010 & 2011 and a World Championship in the Ominium in 2009 doesn't need to told to knuckle down. The transfer from track to road can take a few years for some riders. Not sure what his role is in the team when the OGE lead sprinter focus has been on Goss and also Bling last year. If he isn't the sprint leader he's not likely to be in a position of winning sprints! On the other hand Goss has had many opportunities but also some bad luck and had Matt White selected Renshaw in the Oz team when Cav won at the Worlds, Goss would have been won. Agree Goss needs to deliver more but Howard is slowly starting to feel more comfortable and competitive on the road.
dirkprovin 5 months ago
Been given opportunities in races like Paris-Nice and Tour of Cali where he's either ballsed it up completely (P/N last year) or cracked a pout when it wasn't going his way (Cali 2012). He was a competent track endurance rider (fringe of teams pursuit) but how much of his success in Madison racing due to Cam Meyer's capacity to crank it out and steal a lap ? Howard had snips of road success pre OGE with Columbia but TBH, hasn't even measured up to that level. Its either step up or be willing to make himself into a key support rider OR see himself step down a level of racing. Sure Renshaw would've been the difference at 2011 Worlds ?? Sure Cav wouldn't have just muscled in and hopped on his wheel ??
Pedal Pusher 5 months ago
Didn't realise that Cam Meyer was able to assist Howard with an Ominium World Title! The post by tcmartos is more on the money. Re Renshaw - Gossy still would have had a better chance had Renshaw led him out - Cav does get beaten sometimes, in fact quite a bit in 2013! When McEwen came on board with OGE I'd hoped he'd be able to guide Gossy - positioning and tactics regardless of a lead out team. Would like to know how many 2nds he has achieved! If he can deliver some good results at races like Milan San Remo then his success as a sprinter is not as critical given Bling and Ewan are team mates.
dirkprovin 5 months ago
They actually did a fairly major clean-out at the end of 2013 but the likes of Goss and Howard are definitely under the microscope this season. Any thought that being an Aussie rider on OGE meant you were safe and didn't have to deliver have been shattered.
Pedal Pusher 5 months ago
Just a little post note dirkprovin babe - Howard is leading the sprints points classification, the GC classification, the young rider classifcation and in the first 2 stages came across the line 2nd. Is that enough?
dirkprovin 5 months ago
Aware of that PP; one hopes this may be the precursor of things to come ..... but let's see how his season folds out. I DON'T wish him ill; just think he's been a distinct disappointment over the past two years and needs to either start delivering more or find a new role for himself to remain in the top flight. Here's hoping either of the two work out for him
tcmartos 5 months ago
I was under the impression that Leigh was always managed as a lead out man, and only finds himself at the front when there is no one else around, as is the case in Oman. The OGE lead out train has misfired from the outset. It often fires too early and Goss just isn't in the same class as Cav, Greipel or Kittel. If anything, these 'sprinters' should be using 2013 to cement their place as a leadout man in 2014 for young guys like Bling Matthews, already a GT stage winner, and Caleb Ewan when he joins the team as a stagiaire in August.