On the eve of the final race of the 2019 cobbled Classics, Luke Rowe told reporters that Team Sky’s campaign had not lived up to expectations. However, the Welshman is still determined to turn things around for himself and the team with Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix.
Rowe came into the spring Classics in strong form with a good showing in the crosswinds of Paris-Nice, but had a difficult return to the cobbles getting his ‘head kicked in’ at E3 BinckBank Classic. There was a promising sixth at Dwars door Vlaanderen but the Tour of Flanders did not go to plan. He decided to skip Scheldeprijs while he got himself ready for Paris-Roubaix.
“I’ve been in Belgium now for two and a half weeks it has been a long few weeks. We’ve said that we’ve got a strong team and we are looking to come to these races to compete for the win,” Rowe told reporters at the team presentation in Compiègne on Sunday. “I think that’s yet to really to line up for us. On paper, we have a really strong team but we’re yet to get that big result.”
The Welshman has had some good results at Paris-Roubaix in the past with eighth in 2015 and 14th the following season. His teammate Ian Stannard finished on the podium in 2016, while Gianni Moscon took fifth in 2017. Meanwhile Dylan van Baarle, who has taken a string of top 20 finishes in the last three seasons, has possibly been the team’s strongest rider this year.
Rowe believes that the team is well suited Paris-Roubaix – though there are plenty of teams out there that have the same feeling – and is hoping that they will find better fortunes in the Hell of the North.
“Hopefully, we can put that right tomorrow and have a smooth run. I hope that lady luck will be on our side. I think it is a race that suits us better than the Flanders Classics,” said Rowe. “We did our recon on Thursday. It’s the same old stuff out there, it’s bumpy, it’s horrible. I’m sure that everyone will say the same about the cobbled sections, how tough they are, how brutal they are and relentless. It’s the same every year, it’s not going to change.”
As the team get themselves ready for the race, which will roll out of Compiègne at 11am on Sunday, they make take a small moment to note that this is the last time many of them will pull on the colours of Team Sky. After a decade of sponsorship, the team will be known as Team Ineos from the start of May. With Rowe taking a break after Roubaix, he is one of those that will be donning the jersey for the final time. He says that it doesn’t feel too emotional but adds that it would be a nice send-off for their old sponsor to take a win in their final month.
“I don’t think that it is emotional. If the team was folding and we were all going our different ways then it would change things but the fact that we’re pretty much going to stay the same, it’s just the jersey and the name on our chest that will change, I don’t think that I’ll get particularly emotional,” said Rowe.
“It would be a pretty cool send-off when you talk about pulling on the Team Sky jersey for the last time. It would be pretty special but essentially, Ineos or Sky or whatever we have on our jersey, we’re going to do our best. It will be the last time I pull a team Sky jersey on in a race, because I’m not racing for the rest of April. It would be a great send-off, but I don’t think it will change much.”