DOHA, Qatar (VN) — The sun is shining down in the parking lot Tuesday, not beating down, it’s not that hot, and a breeze pushes through the bikes and small crowd. Riders sit on coolers and carry on with one another easily, saying who knows what, and they usually don’t tell reporters.
American Evan Huffman moves comfortably with his Astana teammates, just another day at the races in year two of his professional career. It’s a different tone than last season, when Huffman was simply looking to fit in. He doesn’t have the name firepower of some other young Americans, and since his move to Astana, Huffman doesn’t rest at the front of the American cycling conscience, at least not yet.
Huffman signed in November of 2012 and is the most recent in a line of California Giant-Specialized elite riders to move into the professional ranks. Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) is the most well known product of the development squad. Huffman is an under-23 U.S. time trial champion, and he won a stage at the SRAM Tour of the Gila in 2012. After putting out 400 watts for 14 minutes in the Tour of Qatar time trial, he chatted with VeloNews. He finished 46th.
VeloNews: How’s it going?
Evan Huffman: It’s going good. Second year. So I’ve got a lot more experience coming into these races, coming into the team, knowing everyone a little better, a little more relaxed. I’d say it’s going well.
VN: And your integration into the team?
EH: It’s going easier. The more time you spend around people — learning each other better — what you like, what you don’t like. It just takes time.”
VN: How about the race in general?
EH: So far it’s way harder than last year. … The first few days were pretty similar, at least at the end, but just so much more wind. It’s been really, really hard. It’s not really my forte. … I should be pretty good at it, but the positioning is so, so critical, and these guys are bigger than me and it’s just — no breaks. It’s kicking my ass. It’s hard. … It’s hard for everyone.”
VN: You mentioned you’re heading to the Tour of Oman next, followed by some smaller classics in Belgium, then Paris-Roubaix. What after that?
EH: It’s too early to say for the second half of the year. I’d really like to do the Vuelta [a España]. But I need to prove myself more. … It’s hard, but I think I am ready to try a grand tour. I like stage racing and I generally feel pretty good later in the race.
VN: Is this block of racing something you like doing?
EH: Its definitely different. It’s kind of nice because you stay in good hotels. The food’s pretty good. The logistics are pretty easy because you’re centrally located. But it’s not a lot to look at when you’re out there racing and there’s not really many fans. It’s a little weird. I did it all last year, it’s kind of normal for me. But it’s very different from Europe. A lot of guys like coming here because of the weather. It’s warm. In Europe it’s raining or snowing depending on where you’re at. It can be really good training. A lot of guys like staying here.