The Welshman finished around six minutes outside of the time cut after Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) won the stage that included two ascents of Mont Ventoux. Rowe wasn’t the only rider to leave the race on the stage but his departure leaves Ineos Grenadiers without one of their most experienced and valued domestiques.
“That’s the Tour de France over for me. Over the time limit on stage 11 unfortunately. I’ll be jumping in the car soon and heading to the airport to head home soon. It’s a brutal sport and that’s the reality of it sometimes,” Rowe said in a recorded message sent out by his team on Wednesday evening.
Rowe had initially been put to work on stage 11 with Ineos having designs on winning the stage and move Richard Carapaz up in the overall standings. Rowe helped set the pace in the early stages of the day’s racing but on the first category ascent of the Col de la Liguière the veteran domestique began to slip back through the groups. He was unable to maintain a pace that would have kept him with the sprinters in the race and with two ascents of Mont Ventoux to come he was forced to ride almost by himself for most of the day.
“It was a solid start and there were a lot of attacks to go in the break. I felt alright through the day and as the moves were going, I felt like I was holding my own in those early stages. The plan from the outset was to try and take it on, and that’s the first time we’ve done that in this race, take it on to try and win the stage or move up in GC,” he added.
“We didn’t get the stage but Billy [Carapaz] moved up a place. So I started to ride like I’ve done a million times before. At that point, I was feeling solid and we hit the early slopes of the first major climb and it was like I hit the wall. The lights went out and guys who I would normally outclimb pretty easily were leaving me for dead. It was over 100km to go and I was on my own. I never lost the belief that I could arrive within the time limit but I missed it by five minutes.”
Rowe has been a part of Ineos’ winning Tour de France teams on four occasions and has finished every Tour he has started bar 2019 when he was disqualified and now this edition when he missed the time cut. The 31-year-old felt that today’s ending to his Tour de France was a massive blow but he took some comfort in the fact that at least Richard Carapaz had moved up a spot from fifth to fourth overall.
“It’s just gutting,” he admitted.
“This is the first time in my career that I’ve missed the time cut. And what a race to do it in. It’s going to be hard to leave the guys and the seven boys with me going home. I’m leaving them in a good place with us moving into fourth place so the Tour is a long way from being over.”
Been a brutal Tour. We're gonna miss @lukerowe1990. See you soon butt pic.twitter.com/VXrNZzm80JJuly 7, 2021
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