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Team-work secures 21-year-old the title
America’s new U23 Road Champion Alex Howes (Felt-Holowesko Partners-Garmin) credited his win to a supportive team and talented teammates. Howes won the stars and stripes jersey ahead of a select group of four riders that played cat and mouse all the way to the end.
Howes, 21, has competed for the Felt-Holowesko Partners-Garmin team since 2003, when he was 15 years-old. He attributes the young squad’s success to the riders having grown up racing together.
“We have good support and great staff from mechanics and soigneurs to Chann McRae, who calls the shots from the car,” Howes said. “But more than anything else our wins come from racing together for a long time, even though we are young.
“I’ve been racing with Peter [Stetina] and Dan [Summerhill] for five or six years now,” he added. “When you race with people for that long things click.”
The squad fielded seven riders at the U23 national championships that includes defending champion, Kirk Carlsen, Howes, Peter Salon, Peter Stetina, Caleb Fairly, Taylor Sheldon and Dan Summerhill.
Odds were on the tough-to-beat team to defend the US U23 National Road Championships, following an impressive performance at the last week’s Cascade Cycling Classic. There they took on the American-professional teams and captured three jerseys and several podium places.
“We all knew coming into the race that we had a strong team,” Howes said. “We all agreed that any one of us could win and that we didn’t have a favorite on the team. We wanted to race our bikes and have one of us come out on top. It’s helpful being on a team like that to take the pressure away.”
Howes won the final breakaway sprint ahead of runner up Scott Stewart (Team Waste Management) and third placed Ben King (Trek-Livestrong). Teammate Salon rounded rode in for fourth place.
“I knew from racing the Cascade Classic last week that I had really good legs and that I would be one of the better guys out there,” said Howes. “To be honest though, I woke up this morning on the wrong side of the bed, felt like I was a little sick or something. But, I knew if things went well that I could make something happen -- They did go well so I made it happen!”