The American, at times so laid back he’s almost horizontal, has a number of targets heading into this year’s race with winning a stage high on the agenda.
He certainly isn’t a prolific winner – his last win came in 2014 – but the 28-year-old, who often gets in breaks and is there or thereabouts in a number of one-day races, believes he has the form to pull off a surprise.
“The form is good, man. I lost a couple of kilos. We went up to Andorra and did some hard training up there. And the team looks really good. I wouldn’t say that they looked bad even if they did but they look amazing,” he told Cyclingnews.
On the eve of the race Howes posted a message on Twitter stating that he was a ‘cheap’ option within Tour de France fantasy league games. Without checking the prices of Howes’ virtual value and cross referencing it against a number of equally talented riders we’re are inclined to agree with his sentiments.
“That Tweet was half a joke but at the same time, in the fantasy leagues I’m pretty cheap,” he said. “Can I win a stage? I like that you think so. I think so, the team thinks so but there’s a lot going on in the Tour de France. We’re juggling a lot of balls in the Tour but if I see something I’ll snap it up.
“We’ll be looking for opportunities out there. We have a lot invested in Pierre but at the same time we have 21 days of hunting for stuff. There are a couple that suit me but I can’t tell you which ones.”
Howes’ characteristics suit the intermediate stages in this year’s race, and they pepper the parcours either side of the Alps. When he’s not hunting for stage wins he will be riding in support of Pierre Rolland, the team’s top-10 contender.
“I’ll be there for the medium mountains but I’m a bit of an all-rounder. The first few stages, they’re not for me but generally I’ll just try and keep the boat on track.”