Alex Howes (Chipotle Development) is working hard to secure a podium position in the overall classification along with the Best Young Rider jersey at this week's Tour de Beauce. Howes’ strong performances this week came some-what as a surprise. He was unsure of his form heading into the six-day race following a bout of illness the week prior.
"I was actually really sick last week and so I didn’t know how I was going to be racing here this week," Howes said. "I was really good at USA Pro Championships and felt like I was at a high level of fitness. But, I came out of TD Bank in Philadelphia and ended up getting sick. I might have only ridden about four times last week easy. I had no idea how I was going to go but it worked out."
US-based continental team Chipotle Development, the feeder team to Garmin-Cervelo, brought a small put promising team to compete at the Tour de Beauce. The roster also includes Rob Bush, who won stage five in Quebec City, Danny Summerhill, who placed third in stage two in Thetford-Mines along with Rob Squire and Max Durtschi.
"If I walk away with the Best Young Rider jersey, a podium on GC, my teammate Rob Bush getting a stage win and Danny Summerhill getting a stage podium, I will be ecstatic," Howes said. "We showed up here with a small team and we've done a good job this week."
"I have confidence in our guys and they really impressed me this week," he said. "We are a bunch of 20-year-old kids and we are racing like a Pro Continental team. We have five guys and I was impressed."
Howes started the stage race in good position for a podium performance after being involved in the stage one decisive breakaway of roughly 20 riders that gained 22:44 ahead of the rest of the peloton. He placed fifth on the day and earned the lead in the Best Young Rider competition.
He went on to place seventh on the ‘queen’ stage three road race that finished atop Mont Megantic, but lost the young rider jersey to Ben King (Team Type 1) who placed fifth on the day. A tenth place in the stage four time trial moved him up into fourth place overall, behind race leader Francisco Mancebo (RealCyclist.com), Bernardo Colex (Amore & Vita) in second and King in third.
"I got into the breakaway on the first day and that is what really set up the GC for me," Howes said. "It was basically a guaranteed top 20 after that. I was a little disappointed with Mont Megantic because I thought I would go a little better on that climb. Traditionally the time trial is where I suffer but I got a top 10 there so that was good."
Howes sprinted for and won the first time bonus sprint on the stage five circuits in Quebec City. He earned three seconds and moved into third place ahead of King in the overall classification. The race will conclude at the stage six circuit race where he hopes to maintain is overall position.
"We will see what happens tomorrow, the last day," Howes said. "Step one was to get on the podium and now that we are there, we want to move up."