While the first stage of 4 Jours de Dunkerque didn’t go exactly to plan for Australia’s Leigh Howard, the neo-professional says he’s starting to find his legs again. Howard contested just a handful or road events earlier in the season, which saw him claim his first professional stage victory at the Tour of Oman, before moving his focus to the UCI Track World Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark.
After winning the Madison world champion Howard contested one road race, Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde, immediately after the worlds before taking a month away from racing. The Victorian returned to competition at Rund um den Finanzplatz Eschborn-Frankfurt at the weekend where he, like all his HTC-Columbia team-mates, failed to finish the event after they were pulled from the race.
“I’m starting to find my legs again,” Howard wrote on his website, leighhoward.com.au. “I felt quite good all day, just stuffed up the last corner and that’s all it took to wreck a whole days work on the bike…maybe tomorrow.”
“It was all looking good until about 50m before the last corner,” he added. “I glanced left and glanced right and within three seconds I was surrounded by about 30 guys, all trying to get around the same left hand corner and I was staring up the rear end of a Mercedes Vito van. Not the best situation at 65km/h, but I just made it out and by this stage was way too far back to even consider winning the stage.”
Howard finished 21st on the stage while another track rider, Denmark’s Alex Rasmussen (Team Saxo Bank), won the stage. There’s four stages remaining in the French race which runs through to Sunday.
After Dunkerque, Howard will contest the Bayern Rundfahrt in Germany later this month before heading to the United States of America, where he’ll contest the Philadelphia International Championship event. When he returns to Europe after Philly, Howard will compete at Ster Electro Tour and may contest the Tour of Austria in July.