Feature Interview – Luke Rowe


Starting the Tour Down Under today is Team Sky’s Luke Rowe – we talk to him about riding for one of the top teams in the World

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Feature Interview – Luke Rowe

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Welsh rider Luke Rowe (above in yellow) was destined for Team Sky even before he’d been signed. Every now and then, riders coming through the GB Academy stand out on the World Stage and Luke Rowe is one. Way back in 2012, Luke, thrust in to the sprinters role after then teammate Mark Cavendish crashed, won stage 1 of the Tour of Britain and was riding in the Yellow jersey.

That was, and is still is, his only pro win, but there is no doubting his ability to win at that level. It’s just getting the opportunities and whilst some youngsters are happier to go to other teams and get such opportunities, Luke is happy at Team Sky.

This week in Australia, he’s riding the Tour Down Under where Aussie Richie Porte will lead the British team with four Brits racing the World Tour event; Peter Kennaugh, Geraint Thomas, Ian Stannard and Luke.

The 24 year old has been with the team for three years with 2015 being the start of his fourth season in the Sky colours. “In my eyes, it is the best team in the World and it’s great to be a part of it. We have some great role models and yes, we (the domestiques) are limited with the race programme we can have. In another team, I may have a better race programme but I am definitely happy where I am. It’s the best place for me at the moment.”


A former Madison champion with Mark Christian, Luke intends to concentrate on the road for the time being.

Luke admits he loves what he does and is something he’d do for free. “It’s something I get up every day and look forward to doing and I get paid well to do it. To be able to live your life happy with what you are doing is a privilege.”

Luke agreed as results go,  that the Tour of Britain stage win and riding in the Yellow jersey is a career highlight for him but added “in terms of performances on a bike though, it’s not. “The Vuelta in 2014 is a stand out moment for me. I upped my game a lot and was able to support Froome who finished second”.

Talking about his role supporting riders like Chris Froome, Luke explained “I am stepping into a role now where I can position riders and so I’m looking ahead to having a road captain type of role in the future. Positioning guys for cross winds, for a climb and making sure the leader is the right position at the right time”.

“It’s something I am quite good at and I’ll be looking to improving that this season. It’s the type of job that every team needs and every leader needs and if I can show I’m good at it, there’s a good future in it”.

“I’ll also be part of a lead out train for a sprint too. We’ve just signed Elia Viviani who’s one of the fastest out there, so we’ll definitely have a decent lead out train this season. Riding on the front defending a jersey is another big one. A lot of what people don’t see though is the start of the race, the first 50k say, when the attacks are on and we’re trying to control that and making sure the right move goes up the road is a massive thing the cameras don’t see.”


Way back when, a young Luke Rowe is European Champion with Adam Blythe, Peter Kennaugh and Mark McNally

“Once that break goes, the easy bit is actually riding on the front. It’s hard physically sitting there on 350 watts all day but at the start, getting that right move to go, that’s the hard bit.”

When in the GB academy, Luke was winning Nation Cup Road Races and he was touted as a Team Sky certainty. When asked has riding for Sky lived up to the expectation he had back then, he replies “yes, safe to say in terms of results, I haven’t got many but I am starting to step up as a solid domestique and reliable rider whether it’s a Classic or Grand Tour. I feel I’m an asset to the team whatever the terrain.”

For the fans though, including me who has seen Luke win races, one of the ‘ugly’ sides to Team Sky is the ‘control freak’ nature of the ‘machine and not seeing talented riders get the opportunities that perhaps they deserve. There are the mega stars and then there are the domestiques and the latter can seem hard done by at times.

It’s the way cycling is of course, and has been for decades. Some riders are also more than happy to create a niche for themselves working for others whilst equally, some riders would like more opportunities. So I asked Luke, does he expect to get more chances like he got at the Tour of Britain?

“Yes” was the reply. “I’ve spoken to the team about the coming season and I do expect to have more opportunities to go for a result. Hopefully I’ll get a good hit out at one of the semi classics where I can ride my own race and not worry about positioning others. That will be interesting to see for me”.

“I finished 11th in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (Het Volk for the older fan) and 31st in Roubaix; they were my two best results in the classics and that was after a solid day of working for other people. So if I can finish 11th supporting others all day, hopefully I should not be too far away from the podium if I get the chance.”

“I want to hit the classics in top form. The cobbled classics are the ones for me, not the Ardennes as they don’t really suit me. The cobbled ones are the most exciting and best ones to be a part of and the ones with the most passion. So I’ll try and hit them going well from the get go.”


Luke Rowe on the front working for his team

Luke says his programme is likely to include the Tour Down Under, the Cadel Evans Classic (Australia) and then Qatar. “My programme is set in stone for the whole year if everything goes to plan but anything can change at any time. It’s a great programme with lots of opportunities”.

Another change in 2014 will be where he has his base. “The last few years, I have been based back home in Cardiff and then when we need to go abroad for a training block, I’ll rent a place or stay at the team house at Nice but as of March I am moving to Monaco”.

“We already have eight guys in the team who live in Monaco and three live in Nice so it will be a great environment to be a part of. Day to day in these places, you’re training with massive cycling celebrities and that can only benefit a rider”.

Asked about track ambitions, Luke admits the two track races he does each year are probably Revolutions which he does to have some fun and a night out. “In terms of GB ambitions, I have ridden the road race for the last five or six years, and I want to keep doing that and hopefully make the road team for Rio 2016”.

“My heart isn’t in the track as much as the road. You have to train so hard for the track, your heart has to be in it”. Luke says never say never but that’s the way it is at the moment and being only 24, there is plenty of time for him to return to the boards. For now, the only wood he’s going to see is the trees by the side of the road in the Tour Down Under and we wish him lots of luck there and for the whole season. Fingers cross that lone win in the Tour of Britain is joined by a few more!


Good luck to Luke Rowe in 2015 and maybe we’ll see more of this!

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