Alex Howes has confirmed he will “evolve away from” WorldTour road racing but still plans to race in the years ahead, switching to an ‘alt’ programme of gravel and adventure events.
“I love riding now as much as ever but to borrow words from the great Serena Williams, it’s time for me to, “evolve away from” WorldTour racing,” Howes wrote in a moving Instagram message at the weekend from Colorado.
“I still love racing & plan to continue. I’m not entirely sure what that will look like in the years to come but I do know that no matter what, it will involve the bike & chasing.”
The 34-year-old was the US national champion in 2019 and won three other races in North America during a 11-year WorldTour career.
Howes and fellow ‘alt’ programme rider Lachlan Morton were replaced by Jefferson Cepeda and Andrea Piccolo on the EF Education-EasyPost WorldTour roster on August 1 when the rider transfer window opened.
Howes only has seven road race days to his name in 2022, while Morton hasn't turned out in EF colours on the road since February.
“With all the highs & lows, the desire to go toe to toe with the world’s best, on their turf, with friends and family 5000 miles away… well, that desire is waning,” Howes explained.
“We planned for this year to be light on the road side. It was made even lighter by a furious UCI points battle & a long string of injury & illness. EF moving me off the WT team doesn’t really change much for now. I’ll still be racing our alternative calendar for the remainder of 2022 & loving every bit of it. What it does signal is the end of my 11 years (ok, 10.583 years) on the WT stage.”
Howes turned professional with Jonathan Vaughters Slipstream organisation in 2007 and rode in the different Garmin, Cannondale, and EF colours.
He rode five Grand Tours and twice finished the Tour de France. He beat Stephen Bassett and Neilson Powless to win the stars and stripes national champion’s jersey in Knoxville in 2019, and kept the jersey for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and disruption to racing.
In the last 18 months, Howes has raced less on the road and more on the dirt, impressing at Leadville Trail 100, Unbound, and Old Man Winter Rally.
Despite moving on from the demands of the European WorldTour circuit, Howes remains grateful for his decade of hard racing.
“It’s hard to articulate how I feel about that. Sad, relieved, nervous, excited, nostalgic… Above all though I am grateful,” he wrote.
“Racing the biggest races, on the biggest stage against the world’s best, was my dream ever since I was a small boy. It wasn’t always sunshine & roses, in fact it was mostly back breaking work, but it was everything I’d hoped it would be.
“Very few people in this world get to tear out a page of a magazine at the age of 7 and say, 'someday, that’s going to be me' & actually have that dream become reality. It’s easy to get lost in professional sport, to lose a sense of purpose, to lose the, 'why' but I’ve always worked hard to bring that young version of myself along for the ride in hopes that what I do might help others to not just dream big but to act on those dreams.
“A huge heartfelt thank you to the EF Procycling family for being my home away from home all these years, my friends & family for their endless support and thank you to you for following along thus far,” Howes concluded.
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