After signing his first professional contract with Team Sky, young British rider Luke Rowe can't wait for the new season to begin. The 21-year-old from Wales had a highly productive spell as an amateur with Rapha Condor Sharp between 2008 and 2011 and has also been part of British Cycling Olympic Development Programme. He is a double European junior champion. So when Team Sky came calling with the offer of a two-year contract racing alongside some of Great Britain's biggest cycling names, the decision to sign was an easy one. It represented the logical next step in his career.
"I'm raring to go. I knew a few months ago I was going to ride for Team Sky and then you're just waiting for your kit," he said. "Now it's arrived and it's January and I can't wait to get started. The next thing is the racing. My first race will be Challenge Majorca [in February] over five individual days and after that the whole squad knows its schedule up to the Tour de France. I'm not racing the Tour this year, so my biggest races initially will be some of the Ardennes Classics."
Rowe is under no illusions as to what will be expected from him in the opening months of the season, but hasn't ruled out the possibility of securing a debut season victory later in the year. First things first, though.
"I'll have a supporting role at first, for sure," he said. "I can't expect to go to some of the biggest races in the world and get a result at this stage of my career. I got to the top as an amateur and had guys working for me but now I've turned professional the roles are reversed. I've gone from a big fish in a small pond to a small fish in a big pond. It's like any job. You have to start at the bottom and work your way up to the top.
"If I perform well in a supporting role then you never know - later in the season I could be in with a shot of a win. People in the past have proved that it's possible to get a win in your first year as a pro. People like [new Team Sky colleague] Alex Dowsett and countless others have done it. But winning a pro race is easier said than done. For the first six months my main task is to support the team as best I can. You're looking to make a good reputation for yourself as someone who can be relied on."