• Luke Rowe on the second rest day at the 2017 Tour de France (Getty)Source: Getty
Team Sky may top and tail the general classification of the Tour de France this year with defending champion Chris Froome in yellow and Welshman Luke Rowe a frontrunner for lantern rouge.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
20 Jul 2017 - 9:57 AM 

Rowe hasn’t dealt in grey areas and has either been at the very front of affairs keeping tempo, or purposely out the back both wrecked from efforts and always mindful of the next stage.

“It means you don’t really speak to many people throughout the day and it’s quite a lonely Tour because you’re either at the front or out the back, I’m rarely in the peloton,” Rowe said.

“But I’m here to do a job, not to chat to people, so I’ll do what needs to be done. It proves I’m doing my job right. Once my job is done it’s a case of I’m going to lose as much time as possible so I’m fresher for tomorrow, so I can again give as much as possible.”

Paris is days away and Rowe can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s a long one in the third and final week where rivals are anticipated to throw everything at Froome and Sky in the Alps.

After stage 17, Froome had a mere 27 second advantage on equal second Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) and Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale).

Roglic strongest as contenders slug it out in the Alps
Former ski-jumper Primoz Roglic (Lotto NL-Jumbo) proved the strongest in the French Alps, the only surviving member of the breakaway after a torrid day in the mountains.

The Tour puts everyone involved through their paces and waves of fatigue, good and bad days come and go. Rowe got his bad days out of the way early when he hit his head and suffered a broken rib in a crash on rain-soaked roads in the time trial Grand Depart but has since rebounded.

“The first two or three days are really slow and you struggle to get into it. Once you get into that first week it’s just like a rollercoaster – bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, - and you tick the stages off quick,” Rowe said of the Tour.

“I’m certainly counting down the days to Paris, but it’s still a very long way and there’s a lot of work and attacks that are going to be thrown at us. We’ve just got to be ready every kilometre over the remaining days, ready for anything.

“I had a really bad start to the race with that crash on day one, which beat me up for a good week, but going into the second week was a lot better,” he continued. “Now starting the third week, generally in Grand Tours I’ve noticed as the days go on I seem to, maybe not get better but hold my level whereas others seem to drop. I think the longer the race the better I go.”

That won’t be reflected by Rowe’s personal placement on the general classification in this 104th edition though it's not important.

“It doesn’t matter where I finish, it matters where he [Froome] finishes,” Rowe said.

“We’re here looking at one end of the scale and not really worried about the other end so if I’m lanterne rouge, 50th or 100th, it doesn’t really matter to me.”