“Hopefully it says that one day I could realistically win this race,” he said in the track centre afterwards. “It’s my third time riding it. The first time I had to give my wheel away on the first section so it wasn’t a true Paris Roubaix for me. This is my second real hit out, so to get a top ten I think says quite a bit.
“For me this is the biggest and best race by a million miles,” he added. “It’s my dream to one day be able to win it.”
Rowe got his chance to show what he was capable of when joint Geraint Thomas -joint Team Sky leader with Sir Bradley Wiggins- fell out of contention after a series of punctures and crashes.
“It was a shame to lose G early on – me and [Ian] Stannard had to step up into those shoes,” he explained. “Sometimes […] someone else’s bad luck is your own good luck.
“That’s not a nice way of putting it, but I got put on duty today because of G’s bad luck.”
Rowe’s own tale of woe was that he hit a protruding stone midway through the race and never found a chance to get a wheel change.
“The front wheel was really buckled,” he said. “I opened the [front brake release] lever all the way and rode most of the race with just a rear brake.”
But a lack of stopping power was no hindrance in the finale.
“That winning move had already sailed unfortunately,” he said. “Me and Brad couldn’t get in that move – after 250km that’s not easy.
“But I knew it was going to be tailwind for all the run-in, so if I could get a decent gap with three or four kilometres to go then I could stay away and round out the top ten.
“I had Belgian national champ Jens [Debusschere of Lotto-Soudal] with me and we both decided to commit. If he beat me or I beat him, it didn’t really matter.”
Perhaps it was good practice for the future that Rowe outsprinted Debusschere in the velodrome.