HTC-Columbia’s first-year professional Leigh Howard has powered to victory in the Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen one-day race in Koolskamp, Belgium. After taking a stage of the Tour of Oman this February, the young Australian rider claimed his second victory of his debut season in a bunch sprint.
“It was a pretty straightforward sprint with some great help from my teammates,” Howard said afterwards. “Bernie [Bernhard Eisel] and Marcel [Sieberg] gave me the leadout I needed and even though I went for it a bit too early myself, I was able to put my arms in the air to celebrate with 20 or 30 metres to go.”
A four-rider breakaway was pulled back in the closing kilometres of the race, making a bunch sprint a virtual certainty. “We’d done a few laps through there and I’d had a good look at the finish,” Howard said. “I had felt a bit hesitant beforehand because my last race didn’t go so well. But when it got to the last few kilometres I was feeling good and ready to go for it. There were a couple of opportunities in the middle of the season I missed, but this time around it all worked out fine.”