Garmin-Sharp's Alex Howes talks with VeloNews about the season that was and the season that's yet to be
On this offseason morning in Boulder, Colorado, Alex Howes, 26, drinks a coffee slow, and talks even slower. It’s quiet now after the season has exhaled, and it’s time for riders to unwind and try to reset before another season of bikes, flights, baggage … in order to do this, Howes decides he’ll run a marathon’s distance pretty much unplanned and unannounced. He also hit the Austin City Limits Festival, and played best man in a friend’s wedding.
Howes took some time to chat with VeloNews about 2014, and the next season.
VeloNews: Tell me about the 2014 season. What’s your assessment?
Alex Howes: There’s highs and lows. Sometimes you get excited, but when you’re in the middle of it, you’re always thinking, ‘What can I do better?’ You always want more, more, more. I would definitely call it a success. I was pretty happy with it.
VN: How about the high point?
AH: It’s gotta be stage 7 in Colorado [Which Howes won, —Ed.]. I mean Colorado was the high point in general. Just being home is nice. Yeah. First pro win, so, that’a a good thing. A little confirmation there.
VN: We saw you at the Tour on and off. What was it like to finish that thing up?
AH: It was a big sense of relief. It’s the Tour. Eveybody has ups and downs, but we had a lot of ups and downs. We lost [Andrew] Talansky there. That kind of screwed up our whole plan. That was the plan. And then to pull off that win with Ramunas [Navardauskas], that was a big deal. A good team effort that day. Just getting through it all with no big injuries or any major crashes.
VN: How about next season. What’s the big goal?
AH: I’m going to start off earlier. If I want to do what I think I can do in the Ardennes, I need to get up, get outta North America before January. So it’ll either be Down Under or Argentina. I’m kind of leaning toward Down Under.
VN: You’ve shown some promise there, in the Ardennes. What do you expect to do?
AH: Honestly I don’t know, but I know I can do better. I haven’t done poorly there. It’s hard to really stand out on Garmin right now, on that Ardennes squad. We’ve got Tom-Jelte Slagter. Dan Martin, he’s pretty good. [Ryder] Hesjedal. So …
VN: Garmin is merging with Cannondale, obviously. Has that affected you at all?
AH: To be honest with you I don’t know. At this point I’m still not totally sure how many of those guys we’ve picked up. I’ve been pretty off the radar as far as communication with anyone goes. But I might have to learn a few words in Italian. We’ll see.
VN: What’s your off-season routine?
AH: That’s the best part about off-season. Is that there is no routine. I’ve traveled quite a bit this off-season, bounced around a bit. Started off in Austin, went to Austin City Limits with Ben King. Came back, lotta wedding preparations for my buddy, got to play the best man role, that was pretty fun … Portland, [then] back home for a little bit, maybe go hunting, go to Mexico, build a house [with More Than Sport, a charity].
VN: Last one. Worlds is in Richmond next year. Is there already some pressure to do well on home turf?
AH: Honestly I’ve always felt pressure to do well at worlds. It’s one of my favorite events of the year and having it on home soil is definitely going to be a big deal. This year I really felt like I, not necessarily underperformed, but the results didn’t match what I was capable of. So you give it another year. Continue to grow a little bit. Maybe I don’t fall down next year, things go a little differently. But we’ll be there, guns blazin’, fists swingin’.