Welshman Luke Rowe calls his Classics campaign "close, but no cigar", as a crash ended his chances of contesting victory in Paris-Roubaix on Sunday
The Welshman had been targeting the cobbled Monument all season, and went into the race as joint Sky leader off the back of an impressive fifth place in the Tour of Flanders the week before. However, the 26-year-old got caught in a crash on the Orchies cobbled sector during the race’s closing stages and then punctured, albeit ending his chances of contesting the victory.
Although he was disappointed to finish 14th inside the Roubaix Velodrome, two minutes behind the winner Mat Hayman, Rowe was happy to see progression this year in his performances across the whole Classics campaign.
“Close but no cigar kind of sums up the whole campaign,” the 26-year-old said at the finish in Roubaix. “I’ve been knocking on the door in quite a few of them, but haven’t got a podium in any of them, haven’t quite reached the top.
“Certainly year on year, and if you look at last year compared to this year, it’s pretty promising.”
Team Sky DS Servais Knaven talks about the squad’s result at Paris-Roubaix
Rowe was one of five Sky riders in the lead group on the cobbles when he crashed. Though he was able to catch back up to his team-mate Ian Stannard and put in one final effort for him on the front, he dropped out of the lead group before puncturing. Stannard went on to finish third.
“It’s kind of bittersweet,” Rowe continued. “I crashed and then I punctured on the Carrefour [de l’Abre cobbled sector] otherwise it would have been five in the front and five chasing. I was in the five behind so punctured just before that. Coming into the velodrome my rear mech stopped working, so I was stuck in god knows what gear.”
He continued: “On a personal note it’s pretty disappointing – I came here to try and compete for the win. Through a few different things I couldn’t do that, but at the same time I’m so happy for Yogi [Stannard].”
Despite it being less than an hour after finishing racing, Rowe took confidence from his performance and what he could do in the Monument in the future.
“Already I’m thinking about next year and Paris-Roubaix,” he said. “It’s my favourite race of the year and I absolutely love it, so already focus switches to this time next year and I’m gunning for it. Hopefully [I can] come back and have a good run and try and win it.”