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"My first year was another level, at a time quite tough, but myself I know I was ready for it and definitely coped with it. I'd say that first year in the WorldTour ranks I was quite happy with it and was quite successful."

Photo: Sirotti




10.12.2014 @ 19:50 Posted by Joseph Doherty

2013 U23 World Time Trial Champion Damien Howson made his WorldTour debut with Orica-Greenedge in 2014 and he was pleaded with a season where he had to adapt to the fast pace of the pro peloton at the sport’s top level.


"It was great to be part of such a successful year for GreenEdge as a whole but personally, it was also a year fuelled by a lot of learning and being part of the team culture which felt great," Howson told Cyclingnews.


Howson was fortunate, as he had already spent part of 2013 racing with greenedge, taking on events like the Tour of Utah. He also rode the 2012 Tour Down Under with the UniSA team, which is comprised of Australia’s most promising young riders every year at the biggest race in Australia.


"Coming from the AIS team, who have that strong connection with GreenEdge as a support network above you already coming into the team, I already knew the riders from previous years, likewise with directors," he said of the familiarity that he encountered in 2014.


"The racing side of things, it was the first experience of stepping into a WorldTour team and you feel the pressure initially and as the season progressed, I was learning everyone's strengths and weaknesses and what works best, and having the leaders in the team, such as Gerrans, to guide you is a special feeling," added Howson.


"I think the way the Australian system works is to put you in the WorldTour when they know you are capable and ready making sure that you have the step and support there," he said. "My first year was another level, at a time quite tough, but myself I know I was ready for it and definitely coped with it. I'd say that first year in the WorldTour ranks I was quite happy with it and was quite successful."


Howson was part of the Orica team who finished second once more on the podium in Ponferrada, at the Worlds Team Time Trial, which was one of the biggest goals of his season.


"From the word go, I set the team time trial as the major focus," Howson said of his 2014 targets, "so this time last year I sat down with the directors and they target for me to be part of the team and with me coming from the U23 world championship win in the time trial the year before, it's an event I could probably step into."


He also managed to ride in big events like the Dauphine, which he said was his favourite event of the year.


"Call me crazy, but I think that of the hardest races of the year was almost one of my favourites, the Critérium du Dauphiné, purely because it's a practise event for the Tour de France that everyone knows around the world," Howson explained. "Having team chefs there and huge numbers of team staff plus with riders under pressure to make the Tour team, it all makes for a really competitive event. To be part of that and see how it all works, I feel like I was part of the Tour de France for a brief period of time there."


2015 will be much of the same, where he will look to ride one-week stage races and excel in the individual and team time trials. But in the long term, he does want to become a challenger in the Grand Tours.


"Obviously it takes a very special breed to compete at the top level of a grand tour riding for the general classification, for now I can say it's a dream, but if he work towards it then maybe one day it will be a reality."




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