Talkingshop: Sky’s Neo Pro Luke Rowe

VeloUK talks to a young Welshman who has very quickly made his mark in pro racing with his first win and the Yellow Jersey in the Tour of Britain. Luke Rowe.

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Winner of a Nations Cup race in 2011, and significantly, 5th in the Under 23 Tour of Flanders in 2010, Luke Rowe is about to start the first training camp for the 2013 season on the back of a first season as a pro which he’s pretty pleased with.

Luke Rowe in 2011 in the Twinings Classic and in 2012, he was riding the Classics. No wonder he agreed he’s living the dream!

“Getting my first win in the Tour of Britain and to get selected to go to the Worlds in a British team packed with so many stars” is certainly a highlight he explained at Revolution 38 last Saturday. “For a first year pro to get selected in that was pretty special.”

“I’m pretty happy with the whole year in general. Not just with the success but I think I have also been able to contribute to the team so that makes me happy and I think the team is pretty happy as well. I think that is what most first-year pros want to do. You don’t go in trying to win races as it’s more about becoming a solid member of the team. That’s what I remember saying at the start of the year and I think I’ve proved that.”

Endura Racing’s Russell Downing (Endura Racing) has a laugh with the Yellow jersey in the Tour of Britain, Luke Rowe.

Luke started his season in the early season ‘classics’ in Mallorca and explained how at the time he was simply proud to pull on a Sky jersey and race in it. The Welshman didn’t have to wait long for some WorldTour racing experience either with the Vuelta al Pais Vasco stage race followed by the hilly classics, Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

“That was definitely a massive step up. I think that was one thing that I was possibly a bit naive to, the difference in different pro races. I used to think every pro race was the same but the difference between a UCI 2.2 and a WorldTour race is massive. At WorldTour level everyone is just gunning for it with the points and the way the system works. The racing is pretty dog eat dog and certainly another step up. The way they attack the climbs for example. You go into a 10k climb and they just hit the bottom like a full on lead-out and the way they attack them is incredible.”

Asked did he get to see much of the stars of the team during his first year, Luke replied “you either have a similar race programme and bump into them there or you don’t. I did couple of races with Brad and quite a few with Cav and the better rider you are, the bigger races you do. In general at Sky, you tend to race with similar sort of guys like tier 1, 2 or 3 guys in the team. I was lucky to race with them, Brad and Cav, quite a bit and I got to do that in the Tour of Britain. That was a good experience especially after Brad had just won the Tour and the Olympics.”

Luke’s first win came when he was trying to lead out the World Champion Mark Cavendish in the Tour of Britain on stage 1 and says “anyone who has watched it, knows that we were trying to lead Cav out. But, if you’re in the right position in the top five with one kilometre to go enough times, then sometimes it will pan out your way. It was a nice little surprise and I didn’t expect it, but I’ll take it with both hands!”

First pro win on Stage 1 of the 2012 Tour of Britain for Luke Rowe

His win and speed in the sprints should not be a surprise after his win in the Nations Cup race in Holland a few years ago as an under 23. Luke though says “it’s only the last few months of the season where I did think to myself that I could go for bunch sprints. I’ve never had a bunch sprint this year where I’ve had the team working for me as I’ve always been working for the team. It’s not until you have the full team support and have a hit out in a race that you’re going to find out if you can do it or not.”

“I’m not ruling myself out but obviously I’m really happy to be leading the team out. We’ve got some fast guys in the team but I think I can definitely contest bunch sprints in the future.”

Luke says he’s certainly living the dream now and is heading for the first training camp with an eye on the 2013 season. “I’ve already got the ball rolling and done two or three weeks of solid riding in Wales grinding it out with Geraint and I have a long way to go as I’m carrying a couple of kilos. I feel like I am where I should be for this time of the year though and everything is good. I had three weeks off so you’re going to put a bit of weight on and over the next few weeks I’ll get rid of it so there’s nothing to panic about.”

“I am kind of lucky in that I put weight on quite quick but also lose it quite quick so getting to race weight has never been a massive issue for me. We have got a training camp in the middle of a December and then I think I’ll have an eye towards to the cobbled classics in 2013. The team has succeeded at every aspect of the sport in the calendar with the possible exception of the classics that we haven’t won and so there will probably be a push towards them.”

“I think in the future that’s possibly where I’d look to excel in my career. I’d love to do well in those type of races. To become a reliable and consistent rider in those and be there for the boys. And then it would also be really cool and good for my career if I could get a Grand Tour in the bag next year. We’ve got a lot of world-class riders on the team so we’ll have to see how that one pans out.”

Thank to Luke for his time and good luck in 2013.


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