Aussie Leigh Howard to race for GreenEdge

Leigh Howard finished the Tour of Spain at his first attempt and confirmed that next year he will form part of the GreenEDGE Cycling team.

The 21-year-old said it was a tough three weeks of racing but believes the experience will hold him in good stead for his first season with the new Australian team.

“I struggled in the mountains, even more so than normal but I pushed on,” Howard said from Madrid.

“I spoke with the older riders on the team and the coaching staff and they all encouraged me to push on and finish because the benefits next year will be enormous in the development of my strength and endurance. Thinking of those long-term benefits helped me make it to Madrid.”

Howard is a dual world champion on the track in the Madison, a title his current teammate Mark Cavendish has also won twice, which has had him in high demand with other teams.

To ensure he made the right decision for his career the Victorian tried to take the emotion out of it and take a professional approach to making his choice.

“GreenEDGE was always my first choice of team but I had a lot of offers on the table,” he said.

“With my long term career prospects as the number one priority, I wrote a pros-and-cons list for each of the teams I’d been approached by and GreenEDGE came out on top.”

To support Howard’s development as a sprinter and contender for the sport’s major one-day races GreenEDGE has appointed Australia’s greatest sprinter, Robbie McEwen, to ride the first half of the season before becoming a technical director for the team.

“I’ve spoken to Robbie a couple of times already about his involvement with the team next year and I think his role is going to benefit me a lot,” said Howard, who for the past two season has ridden with the powerful HTC-Highroad team.

“Racing for the first half of the season will allow him to get a feel for what needs to be improved from seeing us first hand under race pressure. It’s going to be a big benefit for me.

“And when assessing my long-term goals there will be plenty of opportunities to learn from those who will be forming a core part of the team.

“One of the big races I want to win in the future is Milan – San Remo, which Matt Goss won this year,” he said.

“I’ll try and make the team for that race next year where we’ll be trying to get Gossy up for the win again and that would be a great learning experience for me. It’s a race I really want to win.

“I’m also aiming to get a start in the Tour de France in the next couple of years and become the main man for the flatter, faster bunch finishes.”