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After over 15 years with EF Education-EasyPost, Alex Howes’ professional road racing career comes to a close Saturday.
The American team bid farewell to the Colorado native with an Instagram post and blog post on Tuesday.
“He’s helped us fill out UCI forms that helped us take the next step up to the pro tour, he’s given us his all in Grand Tours and monuments, been a trailblazer on our Alternative race program, but more than that, he’s been a friend and invaluable teammate to all,” the team wrote.
“Thank you, Alex, for everything.”
Now 34, Howes began his journey toward the WorldTour with EF, spending his junior years with the team in its early days — he joined in just the second year of its existence, making him a team mainstay.
“Alex is a rare breed these days,” said Jonathan Vaughters, general manager of EF.
“He is a rider who made it to the World Tour on grit, skill, and hard work. Most of all on pure heart. Not so much with big FTP numbers. You don’t see it as much anymore, which is an evolution, but sad for the sport. For these reasons, he’s one of the riders I respect the most from my 30+ years in this sport. He hung tough when almost all others would give up.”
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Howes got his start with the team by pestering Vaughters for a chance.
“I just sent [Vaughters] a bunch of emails, pretty much begging to be on the team, and after some annoying emails, they finally acquiesced and the rest is history,” Howes said.
During Howes’ time as a professional, he won the U.S. Road Race National Championship in 2019 and a number of stages in races like the Colorado Classic and USA Pro Cycling Challenge. He also took to the start line in five grand tours: two Tours de France, two Vueltas a España, and one Giro d’Italia.
“I feel very fortunate in that I get to step away from the WorldTour with a smile on my face,” Howes said.
“I’m happy. I don’t think many people get to feel that way when they stop racing at the WorldTour level. It’s usually not their choice or if it is their choice they are choosing it for more difficult reasons. I feel very fortunate. I feel like I’m leaving on good terms with the team. I feel very grateful that I get to just keep grinning ear to ear like I have for the past twenty years.”
Howes isn’t hanging up the bike, however. He plans to continue racing the North American gravel and mountain biking scene that he had already been a part of for several years through EF’s alternative racing calendar.
“The alternative calendar is no longer going to be alternative for me,” he said. “It is going to be the calendar.”
Howes had been gradually transitioning more and more of his racing to the alternative calendar, having only competed in two road races in Europe in 2022, along with the U.S. Road Race National Championship.
Howes finished ninth overall in this year’s inaugural Life Time Grand Prix, a race series combining gravel and mountain bike races promoted by Life Time. He’s returning to the series in 2023, which should be an even more competitive field after growing by five, to 35 men total.