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CERCEDILLA, Spain (VN) — Alex Howes appears to be smiling more at the Vuelta a España. The end is near, and he is recovering from a crash in the second week of the Spanish grand tour. He is in a perfect position for the end of his season and the world championships.
Saturday, one day before the Vuelta finish in Madrid, Cannondale-Garmin’s American escaped for nearly 150 kilometers. Howes has reason to smile behind his thick-rimmed glasses.
“My legs are coming around pretty well in the last week, but it’s too little too late right now to take advantage of that,” Howes, 27, said before setting off on stage 19. “I was going real well in the first week, but catching a cold put that on the back foot. The silver lining is that I won’t dig myself a big hole before worlds.”
The cold made its way around the Cannondale team. Howes dealt with that and with a crash in stage 8 while he was in an escape and nearing the end of the stage. Fortunately, he stood up quickly, dusted himself off, and continued.
“That was crappy day,” he added. “The second week was tough, but I’m coming better and feeling healthy.”
Just continuing in the Vuelta is a good sign. Cannondale’s two captains already abandoned — Dan Martin crashed in stage 8 and abandoned with a separated shoulder, and Andrew Talansky went home Friday with an upper-respiratory infection.
“We came in with a double GC threat, but we don’t have that in the end. What are you going to do — we are trying to make the best of it by hunting down escapes,” Howes said. “This whole thing was geared with an eye towards the worlds. … It’s a grand tour, it deserves a lot of respect, I’ve been trying to race every day, but I hope to benefit from this for Richmond.”
Howes has two weeks to recover from his efforts after the Madrid finish Sunday. He will not race the team time trial with Cannondale, only the road race on the American six-man team September 27. For 10 days, he will stay in Boulder, Colorado, before travelling to Richmond, Virginia, to meet his U.S. teammates.
“After a grand tour? I’m usually pretty messed up; my body doesn’t handle them very well to be honest, but give me two or three weeks, and usually I’m going well,” he said. “We saw that last year with the tour of Colorado [USA Pro Challenge] after the Tour. Two years along, I did the Vuelta and then the worlds in Florence, and I had a good one. I’m confident things will shape up well for the worlds.”