Dowsett and Rowe shared an embrace in the sign-in area before Ghent-Wevelgem kicked off in Deinze, having both been drenched from the two-minute pedal over from their team buses parked around the corner.
While Movistar’s Dowsett, in just his third race back from a broken collarbone suffered in January, was visibly miserable, Rowe approached his fellow Brit positively beaming at the prospect of riding 240km in the pouring rain.
“No, no, no,” Dowsett told Cycling Weekly when asked whether he was looking forward to the challenge.
“It’s not really the wet cobbles that are the problem, it’s more the fighting for position that I’m not a massive fan of here. It wasn’t nice to see all the crashes in E3. It’ll be some good miles in my legs though, but if it goes bonkers I’m not sure I’ll see the finish line.
“It’s great to see Luke doing so well, we go back a long way. He loves this kind of thing and I don’t like it that much! Racing in Belgium is like Marmite; you either love it or hate.”
Dowsett ensured he got out the way of all the jostling for position on the narrow roads through Flanders Fields by joining the seven-man breakaway at the start of the race.
Rowe, meanwhile, was looking to make the most of the inclement conditions and build on his 13th-place finish at Friday’s E3 Harelbeke.
“The weather is the same for everyone so you’ve just got to deal with it,” he told us. “It’s certainly going to add an extra element to the race, making it that much more messy and stressful.
“We’re all up for it and the weather doesn’t really faze me much. It’s super windy out there, so a bunch sprint is out of the question. It’s about having numbers at the front because it’s going to be a reduced group that makes it to the finish.
“I went to shake Alex’s hand and he said he wanted a hug, so a friend in need is a friend indeed, so if he wants a hug I’ll give him a hug.”