Leigh Howard finished in fourth place on the opening stage of the Tour de San Luis. When he checked in with us following the stage, he said he hoped to go better on stage two. Mission accomplished. Howard rounded out the podium after finishing third on the uphill run into Terrazas del Portezuelo. Following the podium presentation, Howard shared the details of his day.
Basically, today was a similar day to yesterday. The breakaway once again went from the start. There were only five guys up the road today. We brought back one of the riders who had been dropped about 50 kilometres into the stage, so only four were left in the move.
Pieter Weening represented the team at the front of the bunch alongside one rider from Cannondale and a guy from Omega Pharma QuickStep. Our presence at the front showed that we meant business for the stage victory. We’re not always able to use Pieter in this way – sometimes at races like this, he’s riding for the overall, but he came here to get early season racing in his legs. Without any other objectives, he was more than happy to do lots of work on the front.
We didn’t bring the break back until the final four kilometres, and it made for a hectic finale. It might not have been quite as hectic as yesterday because the stage was a little bit harder today, which meant people weren’t quite as fresh. The stage ended in an uphill sprint. Normally, a drag uphill isn’t my cup of tea. I have never been able to be competitive in any sort of uphill sprint until today, so I have to be happy with that.
Sacha Modolo (Bardiani CSF Inox) won ahead of Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma QuickStep). I finished just behind Cav to take third. Today, I went maybe 30 or 40 metres too early. It’s a minor detail, but it’s this type of detail that makes the difference between winning and losing. Regardless, I’m happy with third today. To be up there on a stage that normally doesn’t suit me is definitely a good sign of things to come this season.
The whole team did an incredible job today. Everyone had their bit to do, and they all did it well. Without each of my teammates, I wouldn’t have been up there contesting for the win. Svein Tuft helped me out quite a bit in the last ten kilometres with Michael Albasini taking over from him four kilometres from the finish line. He did a huge turn before leaving me with Mitch Docker.
Working with Mitch these last two days has been great. We’re only one race in, and I can already tell that we’re going to mix it up well in the sprints together. We should have another chance to test out our partnership here on the last day of racing.