Welshman Luke Rowe relished the cold, snowy conditions on stage one of Paris-Nice
While some riders have complained about the adverse weather and stretches of rough roads used during the stage from Condé-sur-Vesgre to Vendôme, Welshman Rowe thrived in the conditions.
“I think it’s a bit of a love/hate relationship with something like that. Sometimes you hate it when you’re out there but looking back it was good fun,” Rowe said on Team Sky’s website.
“I think there was a bit of everything today. We had probably a good half-hour to an hour of full-on snow. It was starting to settle on the ride of the road. We were a bit worried that the race might have to get stopped but then it cleared up and the race began.”
Aside from the wind, cold and snow, the riders also had to tackle three sectors of gravel roads within the final 20km of the race. The earlier wet conditions had rendered the surface muddy, and many riders completed the stage with faces and bikes spattered with mud.
“The gravel sections weren’t actually too bad,” said Rowe. “The race organisers had filled in all the potholes and craters. It was quite messy and a bit of crosswind on them – but in terms of the roughness and the dangerousness of them they weren’t too bad at all.
“There were a few punctures which is to be expected but I don’t think there were any crashes and there were no massive splits on the sections.”
Team Sky worked hard at the front of the peloton throughout the stage with the dual aim of keeping overall hope Geraint Thomas in a good position, and also pushing on for stage hopeful Ben Swift.
At one point, Sky’s pace helped to split the peloton in the crosswinds, isolating Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) before the race came back together.
Watch: Highlights of Paris-Nice 2016 stage one
Swift took a close second behind stage winner Arnaud Démare (FDJ), with Thomas in 10th. Thomas moved up to fifth overall behind race leader Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge).
After Paris-Nice, Rowe has his sights set on a good performance in the remaining cobbled classics. He has already finished fourth in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and will be looking to improve on last year’s eighth place in Paris-Roubaix.