Hugo Houle is full of confidence as he heads into the Tour of Utah and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in August.
Add to this his third consecutive national U23 time trial title, seventh place in Stage 3 of the Amgen Tour of California and the best climber jersey in the Coupe des Nations Ville de Saguenay and Houle has strung together some very solid results.
And heâs just added another solid performance to his rĂ©sumĂ© by winning the Tour de QuĂ©bec, a five-day stage race in and around Quebec City.
This growing event is in its fifth year and attracts a strong field of amateurs and professionals. But because the race is not on the UCI calendar, Team SpiderTech was limited to a maximum of two riders. That left Houle and David Boily facing off against 17 teams from Canada and the U.S., most notably the Louis Garneau-Quebecor squad of Bruno Langlois and Antoine Duchesne.
âOur objective was to be in every move so that we wouldnât be forced to chase,â said Houle. âWe were lucky because we both have good form.â
Good form indeed: In the end, Houle not only won the overall, he also topped the best climber, best sprinter and best young rider classifications. Between them, Houle and Boily won one stage and finished second four times, and Boily wound up fourth overall.
âIt gives me confidence for the upcoming races,â said Houle, who boarded a flight Monday for Colorado, where he will spend the next week with teammates Boily and Ryan Roth getting used to the rarified air. âAltitude is still an unknown for me.â
Houle was full of praise for the Tour de Quebec, which consisted of two road races, two criteriums and a time trial.
âThe organization is super solid, and there are a lot of spectators with the courses in Quebec City,â he said. âWith the mix of stages they had this year, I think itâs a good foundation for the future.â
As for the rest of the season, Houleâs eyes are fixed firmly on one goal: The world championships in The Netherlands in September, just before his 22nd birthday. This is his last season in theÂ U23 category and heâll be looking to improve on his 26th place from last year.
âItâs my main objective,â he said. âIf Iâm selected for the WorldTour races in Quebec, that would be my second priority.â