Alex Howes (Garmin-Cervelo) will make his professional debut at the Tour of Qatar next month, eager to make the most of his opportunity within the professional ranks.
It will mark Howes’ second coming to European racing having spent a season at VC la Pomme in 2007. This time around, Howes is determined to use that experience to help settle into his new base in Girona.
“I’d definitely say I’m excited. This time around I think I have more personal responsibilities that I need to take care of. Last time I was staying in a team house but now I’ve got to sort out my own apartment and that will give me more of a general feel for the culture so that it doesn’t feel like I’m just jumping in the dark,” he told Cyclingnews.
“I’m going to make a better effort to integrate into the culture a little more than when I did when I was in France. That will be a little easier this time around because I’ll be going back and forth a bit more”
Howes’ race schedule is still not confirmed. He had been planning on riding the Tour Méditerranéen but the Tour of Qatar in February will likely be Howes’ debut. From there he will head to the Tour of Langkawi – a race he shone in last year with the Chipotle team.
However, the biggest race on his provisional plan is the Amgen Tour of California.
“I got a schedule in November and it’s already changed. It’s supposed to be starting with Qatar and then going back to Langkawi to try and pull out a result for the team. The schedule goes up to June, and hopefully as things stand, I’ll get a shot at the Tour of California.
“I think it’s going to be big step but I’m also a year older than most guys who turn professional, so that gives me some advantage in that I have a few more miles in my legs and hopefully I’ll be able to handle that a little bit better.”
Howes is smart enough not to put too much pressure on his shoulders. When asked about his aspirations for the coming season of racing he was quick to point out that his priority will be to race as much as possible.
“Right now I feel pretty motivated and focused and don’t feel like I’m in over my head. Maybe we'll talk again in two months and I’ll be crying on the phone, but right now I think I’m ready for it. I’d imagine that I’ll get my head kicked in a few times though.”