Huffman enjoys his Astana debut in Qatar and Oman

The USA's Evan Huffman made his debut with the Astana team at the Tour of Qatar and Tour of Oman, getting a taste of life in the WorldTour alongside some of the biggest names in the sport.

The 23-year-old from Elk Grove, California joined Astana last November thanks to support from bike sponsor Specialized. He is the current Under 23 US time trial champion and rode for the California Giant-Specialized Elite team in 2012, winning the time trial stage at the Tour of the Gila ahead of Rory Sutherland and Joe Dombrowski, both of whom also signed with UCI ProTeams this year.

Huffman was scheduled to make his debut in Italy but was switched to Qatar and Oman due to injuries to other riders. It was a great chance to get some quality racing in his legs.

"It's been a good start for me. It's been hard racing but with good roads and warm weather. I enjoyed it," he told Cyclingnews in Oman, where he finished 108th overall after working for team leader Vincenzo Nibali.

"It's been hard but it's not unreasonable. I've been able to ride okay and finish. I think my fitness is in a good place at the moment. There's still a lot for me to learn but I'm happy."

Huffman admits he still has a lot to learn about European racing.

"It's a lot of little things I need to learn," he said, with an anecdote.

"The other day I was riding on the front but I was swinging to the far left and far right kerb, which is not good because then everyone behind is doing it even more and having to ride too hard. I thought we needed to catch the break but we just needed to hold it. I got a little over-excited."

Huffman is headed to his new base in Girona, Spain after the Tour of Oman. While the Astana team has clusters of riders in Monte Carlo and Italy, he chose the Catalan city, that is home to a number of other American and English-speaking riders.

"I was there for a week between the training camp and leaving for Qatar and I quickly got to like it. Girona is a cool town, the weather is nice and there's a big cycling community, with lots of American and some Australians," he said.

"Living on my own is not new or difficult for me. I just need to be some place comfortable, so that I can train. That's what I need to feel like I'm at home."

His next race scheduled will be on his new 'home' roads at the Volta a Catalunya, unless he gets a sudden call up from the team.

"I'll be in Girona for a month and then I ride Catalunya. I'm reserve for a lot of stuff too though, so I might end up doing some of the early Classics," he explained.

"I'm happy with that. I'm happy with every chance I can get to learn more and show what I can do."

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