Rowe (Sky) finished the five-stage event yesterday, confident he could go back to his team and now talk about a race program for the remainder of the season.
The 27-year-old fractured his right tibia and fibula while whitewater rafting on his brother’s bucks party in the Czech Republic last August.
Initial reports suggested Rowe, a staple of Sky’s cobbled classics squad, may be out for up to a year, which he shortened to just six months after surgery and extensive rehabilitation.
“I was heading into the unknown, I really was. I didn’t know what to expect but I think it’s been a pretty solid week. On a personal note, I’ve felt fairly strong. I’ve still got a lot of work to do if I want to be at the classics but for a first race back I’ll take it,” Rowe said.
The confident Welshman arrived here in Abu Dhabi with no schedule past the WorldTour race that Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) won with a stage victory on the last day.
“I don’t know what I will be able to race, and what the team will put me in but I’m not really bothered. As long as I’ve got a number on my back, and I’m in the peloton, I’m happy,” he said.
The wide, largely flat and open terrain in Abu Dhabi made for a good and safe testing ground that Rowe, who was visible at the front in crosswinds that animated two stages, believed he passed on.
“I’m ready to go, and going in to race. I think there is no reason to not kick-on from here and try and get stuck into the thick end of it. Whether that’s a slightly more relaxed approach in stage races, or going into the classics I’m still not sure but I think the aim now has got to be to try and get back to the classics,” he said.
Rowe wasted little time in his recovery bid that included gym work some two-and-a-half weeks after surgery, which Sky sports directors have made positive mention of.
“My wife wheeled me in, in a wheelchair and I started the gym from there. I’d actually never stepped foot in a gym before in my life, never done anything, never lifted a kilo. It was something that didn’t interest me, or believe would benefit me so I never did it,” he said.
“The early days I was doing gym every day, sometimes a couple of times a day, but it’s something I’ve kept up until now and I’m still doing it.”
Rowe intends to try and incorporate a gym schedule into his regular ride and rest routine as he continues his comeback with the cobbled classics being a major carrot.
“It started off to be used as rehab and try to build-up that right leg so it was as strong as the left, but slowly adapted to trying to get better on the bike. Time will tell whether it will benefit me,” he said.