Luke Rowe (Team Sky) appears to be already back to his best in the Abu Dhabi Tour just six months after a potentially career-threatening broken leg. The return is allowing him to plan for the coming months, perhaps even returning to the Classics in April.
He was unsure of returning to racing, and certainly not as soon as February in the Abu Dhabi Tour. On stage two, however, he was riding "full-gas" in the front echelon with the peloton split into bits by the Arabian winds.
"It was good fun," the 27-year-old Welshman said. "It was good to spice it up a bit. I was quite glad the wind came and made a bit of race of it.
"It's good fun when you are going full-gas, doing 60kmh and your heart rate is over 190 the whole time. It's perfect."
Even if the race came back together and Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) won the stage, this is the perfect return at the end of a frustrating six months.
"It just feels good, it's been a long six months, drawn out, frustrating at times. It's just a good feeling to be here with the team and pin a number on."
The original prognosis was 12 months out, not six months, so already racing in February is a positive step for Rowe.
"I'm at the stage now, where I think I can definitely return to 100 per cent," Rowe continued.
"In the early stages, much went through my head, if I would return or how good could I would be. There were some scary times. I'm lucky that I was in a position, surrounded by amazing staff and having the facilities. I'm grateful for that. That's a big reason why I cam back so soon."
In 2017, he placed sixth in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and third in third in the Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, the early Belgian Classics, which take place this weekend. In 2016, he rode to sixth in the Tour of Flanders. However he said that he is not yet calling up the team to say, "Reserve a spot for me in the roster."
"Ha ha! Yogi [Stannard] won't have a signal he's at the top of a volcano [training in Tenerife] at the moment. But no, I think that after this race I don't have a race programme.
"On the Monday after this, I'll go home and see how I am. There's not any point of making a race programme because we didn't know how I'd be here. If I'd be all right, or get my head kicked in.
"Until the week is over, we won't know the answers to that. But when this race is over I'll give them a buzz and see what they are saying. Maybe look towards them classics, I don't know if they are possible or not, but...
"It's realistic to be there, I could be on the start line, but is it realistic to be there in good shape? Unless you are there in good shape, you might as not even be there because you'll just climb off at the feed zone.
"The level is so high. You have to be good, if I'm not good, I won't be there. But yes, it is realistic to be good there. It's possible."
The Classics include the E3 Harelbeke on March 23, Ghent-Wevelgem, Dwars door Vlaanderen, the Tour of Flanders and on April 8, Paris-Roubaix.
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