• Luke Rowe (L) with Sky team-mate Wout Poels at the Santos Tour Down Under. (Getty)Source: Getty
Luke Rowe has commenced his season and returned from injury on solid footing in Australia as he works toward being in top form for the spring classics.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
29 Jan 2019 - 8:54 AM  UPDATED 29 Jan 2019 - 11:57 AM

Rowe (Sky) finished sixth at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race on Sunday, one week after he supported Sky teammate Wout Poels to third overall at the Santos Tour Down Under.

“I think as a team we’re moving really well and it’s nice to see that straight away, the way we’re riding as a team we’ve carried on from last year,” he said.

The 28-year-old is back in Australia after missing the six-week block here last season through injury. He broke his leg in a water rafting accident after the 2017 Tour de France and was benched from then to February 2018. His 2018 campaign ended in August with a fractured wrist.

“I found last year I had the same form until it went past 200km and then didn’t have that depth,” he said. “Hopefully with a big winter, big block here, then go back to Europe and start racing there, I’ll get to that 200km mark and still have something in the legs left.”

The Welshman was disqualified from the Tour of Flanders last season and registered a DNF in Paris-Roubaix. His career-best result at the latter was eighth in 2015 but it’s not a race he wants to specifically target, with a broader outlook on the spring classics generally.

“If someone else is better on the day or if we get into a situation where I have to lend a hand then I’ll be first to do that. In saying that, I’ve still got my own ambitions in the classics for sure,” he said.

Rowe is normally accompanied in Australia by a Sky classics old guard including Ian Stannard as well as Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas, who aren’t here this year.

“I think it’s going to be pretty similar to previous years,” he said of the actual classics squad that will compete in Europe. “You’ve got me, Stannard. Gianni [Moscon] will probably be at the fore. G [Thomas] and Kwiato [Michal Kwiatkowski] aren’t going to race any classics, which would only strengthen the team, but they’ve got different goals and objectives.”

Outside of the classics, Rowe is again in the mix for Tour de France selection. He supported compatriot, friend and teammate Thomas to his maiden maillot jaune in July and has been a staple for Chris Froome.

“I’ve been there the past four years and it would be great to go back and try and do the damage again,” he said.

“Last year it went pitch perfect for [Thomas]. I hope the same happens again and he can have a good run in. Whether it’s him or Froomey I don’t care as long as one of them does the damage.”

Rowe last year signed a three-year contract extension with Sky, just before team management made the shock announcement in December that the title backer would withdraw its support after this season. Rowe was then and remains confident that management can deliver a new benefactor.

“You do have to put it to the back of your mind but you’re naturally going to think about it and try to keep up to date on what’s happening,” he said.

“Unless we get another sponsor this team will fold but I’m confident we’ve got the best people out there looking. I’m confident it will come off and we’ll carry on under a new name, which would be a dream.

"I think it would be a sad day for cycling if this team was to fold. If it does happen, I’ll have to look at other options but for now, it’s, like you said, keep your head down, do the best yourself and the best for the leaders within the team.”