Luke Rowe says that his Tour of Flanders crash isn't going to stop him pulling out all of the stops for this weekend's Paris-Roubaix. Despite losing a fair amount of skin in Sunday's tumble, Rowe has been treating this week as business as usual and has been riding through the pain as the team recced the Roubaix route earlier this week.
The Team Sky rider admitted that if it were another point in the calendar he would probably sit back and allow his body the time it needed to recover. With Roubaix just around the corner, however, he's keen to keep the body moving so that he doesn't seize up ahead of Sunday.
"I kind of lost most of my skin down most of my right-hand side, but in general when you crash that fast on a bad surface like that it could have been a lot worse," Rowe told Cyclingnews at the start of Scheldeprijs on Wednesday. "You see Sep's [Vanmarcke] got a broken finger, and that's put him out of Roubaix. While you can't say that it's lucky, I think that I've come off relatively well.
"Yesterday was quite painful but you've just got to keep going. To be honest it's painful, but I'm just trying to forget about it. It's Paris-Roubaix. Any other race, you'd say I'll have a few days off and let the body heal but it's Roubaix and nothing is going to stop me performing to the best of my ability there."
Rowe had nowhere to go last Sunday when Vanmarcke crashed with just over 50 kilometres to go. He had been in the key breakaway that had gone on the Muur van Geraardsbergen but his day was done as soon as the accident happened. He was able to remount and make it to the finish, although visibly in a lot of pain.
"It's just one of those things, I had nowhere to go, and in a blink of an eye, I was down. My bike was broken, and the cars were so far back and in an instant it was game over," he added. "It's never nice to stop a Classic, especially Flanders or Roubaix. I've never not finished one so far and I didn't want to start there. It was worth battling on to the finish line, it's quite a nice feeling and also it's good to try and loosen up the leg a little bit by riding. I think physically I was in good shape, and it was pretty gutting after being up there in a pretty select group and in a good situation and feeling well, but that's the Classics."
Gianni Moscon was able to salvage a solid result for Team Sky, with 15th place at the Tour of Flanders, but it is well off what they would have hoped for had Rowe still been in contention. It is the latest in a string of disappointing results for the team this spring, with only Rowe's third place at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne to write home about. Rowe readily admits that it has been below par for the team but remains confident that they can still end on a high at Roubaix, a race he thinks is better suited to the squad.
"We've got to go into Roubaix and take the positives out of the last month. The team has been riding well and physically we've been feeling good, and hopefully a few things go our way and we can pull one out of the bag," he said.
"It hasn't been a good Classics so far. The highlight has been a third place so far in Kuurne for myself, which I think for a team that puts a lot of focus on the Classics, we haven't got the biggest team in the world, but it hasn't been the most successful. It sounds a bit of a cop out, but luck has a big part to play in that. You look at a few races and it hasn't gone our way but again that is the Classics, and you make your own luck."
Team Sky has been on two recon rides over the Paris-Roubaix cobbles in the last week. The first came in the build-up to the Tour of Flanders, where they rode the first 10 sectors of cobbles, until the Arenberg Forrest. They picked up where they left off on Tuesday, ahead of riding Scheldeprijs, going from Denain through the Arenberg and onto the Roubaix velodrome. No stone has been left unridden, according to Rowe.
"Every cobbled section we've seen, there's not a metre of cobbled sectors that we haven't seen. It just allows you to see the whole thing and anyway you have to do a few rides midweek in between the races so you may as well do it on the roads and learn while you're doing it,” he explained. “We saw it [on Tuesday], and it was pretty dry. It was one of those epic dusty conditions. The car went in front of us for one section, and we couldn't see anything. It was proper dusty because it's so dry.
“I think that we can expect another race similar to Flanders – open. People aren't afraid of racing further and further out. I've been thinking, how far are they going to go? Seeing that split on the Muur and then when Gilbert went, I thought that’s a long way to go, but we’ve been seeing people succeed further and further out.
"The Classics have been raced more aggressively and from much further out than I've certainly raced ever before in the past in the last four or five years. I actually quite like it. It's good."