Welshman Luke Rowe feels ready to take on co-leadership duties with Ian Stannard at Paris-Roubaix, saying that he's 'gone up a level'

Luke Rowe has made massive strides over the last few years in the classics, which has set him up for joint leadership in Paris-Roubaix next Sunday (April 10). Rowe says that he hopes to head Team Sky with Ian Stannard and provide the team its best result yet in the cobbled classic.

The 26-year-old Welshman had his best results so far in 2016. He placed fourth in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad last month and on Sunday in Ghent-Wevelgem, he just missed the winning group with Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and attacked several times in the final. Afterwards, he took shelter in Sky’s bus while a storm passed over Wevelgem and then poked his head out to talk.

“I definitely noticed I’ve gone up a level,” Rowe told Cycling Weekly. “I feel more confident, and in the peloton, where I used to be just hanging on over the climbs, I’m in the thick end of things. Moving on to Roubaix, I hope to go in as a joint leader with Ian Stannard.”

Luke Rowe at Paris-Roubaix (Sunada)

Luke Rowe during 2015 Paris-Roubaix. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada

Sky in the last two years worked for Bradley Wiggins and Geraint Thomas in the Hell of the North. This year, both Rowe and Stannard stepped up a notch while Wiggins left top-end road cycling and Thomas turned his attention to stage races.

In December, the team previewed the cobble sectors through northern France that make the race so famous. At that time, head classics sports director Servais Knaven said: “Ian and Luke are really up for it. They want the leader’s role and want to take the chance. Luke made a big step last year, worked a lot in the Tour of Flanders and was still up there in the final.

“That was impressive. Also in Roubaix, where he just missed the final group on the last sector. That was big for him and he’s still disappointed about that. Luke and Ian work well together and they know each other well.”

Welshman Luke Rowe lines up with Sky team-mates ahead of Ghent-Wevelgem. He finished in 22nd place and now turns his attention to the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

Luke Rowe lines up with Sky team-mates ahead of Ghent-Wevelgem. Photo: Graham Watson

Rowe placed highest for Sky in eighth last year in Roubaix. The team’s best performance was in its first year, when Juan Antonio Flecha placed third.

Rowe was “frustrated” to miss the four-man group with Sagan that went on to win Ghent-Wevelgem on Sunday. He had followed the attack over the Kemmelberg, but said that when Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) lost pace, he was distanced too.

>>> Prototype Pinarello Dogma K8 tested by Luke Rowe at Ghent-Wevelgem

He sees progression, however. “Definitely, that race today was 243 kilometres. Even in the last 10 kilometres, I felt strong,” Rowe added. “I was attacking and felt quite strong. It is just nice to have that confidence in the late stages of a long race and still have the legs.”

Those legs will support Rowe through this Sunday’s Tour of Flanders. His job is to help Sky’s leaders Michal Kwiatkowski and ‘G’ Thomas.


Watch: Luke Rowe – Show Us Your Scars


“I’ll take confidence into the coming weeks. I’m there to lay it down on the line for them boys. What ever they want, I’ll do it. We have guys who can genuinely win the race. They say, ‘Jump.’ I say, ‘How high?'”

Rowe raced in the Three Days of De Panne today, where he placed fifth, to lead up to Flanders on Sunday and then the Scheldeprijs next Wednesday ahead of Paris-Roubaix.

  • poisonjunction

    Thanks for the feedback, an unlikely abd’ – without information it sounds a little ominous. Trust it’s nothing serious that the masseur can’t work on!

    NB Only my conjecture, could be a mechanical, but we’d have known by now!

  • James

    He started, I was up the kemmelberg, and he was looking strong at that point at the front of the peleton, turns out he abanndoned around 20k later

  • poisonjunction

    DNS day Two of de Panne, what’s amiss?

  • poisonjunction

    DNS day Two of de Panne, what’s amiss?

  • JCD

    Couldn’t agree more – he looks super strong this season and it’d be great to see him get on the podium of a monument.

  • Calum Croft

    Really starting to become a familiar face at the head of affairs, even instigating winning moves like in Het Nieuwsblad, so great to see from a real grafter. a team player, and a nice guy.