Luke Rowe leaves the Tour of Qatar tomorrow and heads closer to the classics, aiming for the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
“The Tour Down Under being WorldTour and then coming here … It’s been full on racing,” Rowe told Cycling Weekly. “It’s quite a different style of racing than last year [in the Majorca Challenge]. The hope is having a little bit more form earlier on looking towards the classics.”
Rowe spoke this morning ahead of the final and sixth leg of Qatar finishing in the capital city Doha. He helped the team to second place in the time trial on day two and yesterday sprinted to fifth behind winner Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep).
Sky selected him to be in the team for Down Under and Qatar with an eye on the classics. The classics group, about 10 in total, will meet for another training camp in Majorca on February 14. A group will go from there to race in the opening classics weekend February 23 and 24 in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.
The team will travel and train in Tenerife afterwards. They will reappear for Milan-San Remo, Flanders and Roubaix, and the other classics and semi-classics in between them.
Rowe won a stage of the Tour of Britain and raced in several important races in his debut year last year. Planning for the classics with Geraint Thomas and Edvald Boasson Hagen, however, is quite a step forward.
“The big difference is starting earlier. It’s almost a month earlier, really. We’ve been on the road for almost a month now. I think that’s the main difference and obviously, a high level of racing as well,” Rowe continued.
“We are all on it, a similar programme, Tenerife and the camps… I’m on that. Obviously, when it comes down to the big dogs, Flanders and Roubaix, it’s going to be that the best go. But, apart from that, I’m down for a lot of the other classics.”
“We have realistically four or five guys who can win a classic. I’m realistically going to be there to support, and I’m looking forward to that role.”
Rowe raced Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen, Dwars door Vlaanderen, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He explained he will focus solely on the cobbled classics through Roubaix.
“[The Ardennes] just don’t really suit my characteristics as much as the cobbled classic do,” Rowe added. “I did them last year and that was a good experience, but I want to knuckle down and try to do the cobbled classics.”