Garmin-Sharp’s Alex Howes is one of the six younger generation of American riders that USA Cycling selected to compete in the Elite men’s road race at the UCI Road World Championships held from September 21 to 28 in Ponferrada, Spain, and he is motivated to put forth a strong performance in what will be his last race of the season.
“I haven’t shown myself at that level, so Worlds is kind of an unknown right now,” Howes told Cyclingnews following the WorldTour finale at the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal last Sunday.
“I’ve done Worlds before but I haven’t ever done anything spectacular there. It’s hard to say how I can do there but it is my last race of the year and I feel pretty motivated going into it.”
Howes was one of several younger American riders to debut at the Tour de France this year with their trade teams, along with his Garmin-Sharp teammate Ben King, Matthew Busche (Trek Factory Racing) and Peter Stetina (BMC Racing). Although they won’t all be participating in the World Championships, USA Cycling has continued the theme by selecting a similar cast of younger riders.
Brent Bookwalter, 30, will lead the team that also includes Tejay van Garderen, 26, who placed fifth at the Tour de France this year and won the USA Pro Challenge. US road champion Eric Marcotte, 34, will make a debut on the world stage alongside Kiel Reijnen, 28, who won the opening stage at the USA Pro Challenge, and Andrew Talansky, 26, who won the Critérium du Dauphiné. Van Garderen and Talansky will also compete in the time trial.
“It is a very young team this year,” Howes said. “It will be interesting and we will see how we will organize ourselves out there. I think America sees this Worlds project as a longterm thing, and we are looking three or four years down the line and potentially into the 2016 Olympics.
“It’s a young team on purpose and we need to give it a few years to see how things shape up,” Howes said. “I know that USA Cycling sees us, the younger group, as a longterm project.”
Howes finished his debut Tour in 127th place, 4:18:43 behind winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana). His form carried over into the USA Pro Challenge were he placed second in the first two stages and took over the early race lead. He went on win the final stage in Denver while van Garderen won the overall title.
Howes finished the final two WorldTour events in Quebec City and Montreal in 35th and 31st place, behind double winner Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge), however, he hopes to have a stronger performance at the World Championships.
“The Worlds will be a different race and the level will be a little bit higher there than it was in Quebec,” he said. “Those races will be able to tell us some things about how the other riders are doing going into Worlds.”
Howes is also looking further down the line with his sights set on the 2015 UCI Road World Championships held in Richmond and in his home country.
“I absolutely hope to be there and it will be a big goal of mine,” Howes said. “I think we have a couple of guys for that kind of course and a number of us are going to go down in October to check out the courses, to get a feel for it and to see what we will be up against.”