Cannondale-Garmin with cards to play at the Tour Down Under, says Howes

Alex Howes' third trip to Australia has already been a success. The 27-year-old Cannondale-Garmin rider, making his Tour Down Under début, had previously only caught glimpses of the some of Australia's best known animals but has been inundated with them on this visit.

"[I've seen] much more wildlife in Australia, first time around I didn't see any kangaroos," Howes told Cyclingnews on the start of stage 3. "This time round I've seen mobs. Also some koalas."

Howes also managed to squeeze in a pre-stage cuddle with a joey, which has given him food for thought on a post-racing career.

"I think I've found a new life direction," he said. "I think I am going to breed kangaroos in America. I think I am actually going to breed pigmy kangaroos and sell them to rich people in Hollywood."

While occupied with Australian fauna, it isn't all play for Howes, having picked up some valuable lessons this week.

"Racing wise, Australians don't go very slow in January," he said. "I am learning that, it's pretty difficult.

On stage 2, which featured the uphill finish in Stirling, Cannondale-Garmin swelled to the front of the peloton in the final 10km as they looked to position Nathan Haas for the win. Haas hit out early but was unable to hold on as Juan Jose Lobato (Movistar) sped past to claim the win while the Australian finished in ninth.

Today's stage three from Norwood to Paracombe features another finale that suits the characteristics of Haas but he isn't the only card the team have to play as Howes explained.

"We are going to see what we can do with him [Haas]," Howes said of the stage tactics. "We have a few cards today with him and [Moreno] Moser, it's not a bad final for either of them. More than anything we will just try to stay organised and have a stab.

"In terms of overall GC, it won't be as important as Willunga as that bites a little harder than what we'll see today," he added. "It will be important today though."

As this is the first race for the team since the merger between Garmin-Sharp and Cannodale at the end of 2014, Howes explained that there have been no teething problems in integrating the new riders, as the team's performances at the race have suggested so far.

"Honestly it's been a pretty seamless transition," he said. "The guys we have seem to fit in pretty well and bring a new element that we all seem to appreciate."

While Howes is working for teammates in January, come April and he will be looking for good results in the Ardennes and then a return to the Tour de France. Post-July, Howes' season objectives are the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado, where he won a stage and twice finished second in 2014. He'll also target the World Championships in Richmond, Virginia.

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