Leigh Howard wrapped up the eight day Tour of Britain in fourth place. The former jersey wearer started the weekend in second overall and slipped down to fourth place after back-to-back hilly stages. Despite finishing just off the overall podium, Howard leaves the British Tour feeling satisfied with both the results and the efforts. In his own words, he wraps up the race below.
Stage seven on Saturday was definitely the hardest stage of the Tour of Britain. There was constant climbing. We went up or down on small roads all day. After leaving so much out there on Friday, I couldn’t respond in the finale.
The stage finished with two really hard hills in the last ten kilometers. It was a huge race to the bottom of those climbs. As soon as we got there, Nathan Haas (Garmin Sharp) and Jonathon Tiernan-Locke (Endura Racing) attacked and lit up the race. I lost contact at that point, but I fought as hard as I could all the way up those climbs and to the finish. I ended up losing about a minute and moved from second to fourth overall.
Today was relatively easy in comparison. It was a mellow start and the day got harder during the last 50 kilometers. Jack [Bobridge] was pretty keen at the start of the stage to finish the week off on a high. It’s amazing what he can do when he’s motivated.
He got into a four rider break. When the break was caught, he got into another move. He attacked a third time when things came back together, and he was only caught with around ten kilometers left to race. He was strong today. It took the whole bunch to bring him back.
As for me, I had nothing left in the sprint. After such hard days of racing on Friday and Sunday, my legs couldn't respond in the finale today. With the final stage ending in a bunch sprint, there was little movement on the overall results.
This week was a big learning curve for me. It was the first time that I have ever ridden for the general classification at this level. It was a fun, new challenge in a sense but it was certainly a painful eight days of racing. Mentally, it’s completely draining to ride for the overall.
I’d like to try to ride for the GC again in the future. It has to be the right sort of race for me. There can’t be any time trials or big mountains. This sort of race was the perfect race for me to push myself as hard as I could and see how things shook out. There were a lot of small climbs and no time trials. It was the perfect challenge.
I climbed really well this week, and I’m extremely happy with how the week has gone. Obviously, I would have liked to have finished on the podium, but it wasn’t to be after losing time yesterday. We come up with fourth overall and a stage win, held onto the jersey for several days and managed a few lesser podium places. After losing Brett [Lancaster], we were down to four. I think we did a bloody fantastic job with the small team we had here.