After a solid ride on stage 3 of the Tour of Qatar Luke Rowe has moved into the white jersey as the best young rider but the Team Sky rider has greater ambitions in the race and believes that he and his team can take on Etixx-Quickstep and end the team’s dominance in the race.
Rowe finished the 10.9 kilometre time trial in 11th place, 31 seconds down on stage winner and new race leader Niki Terpstra of Etixx-QuickStep. Ian Stannard had a strong performance for Team Sky too and he now sits third in the overall, twelve seconds off Terpstra's lead, with Rowe in 5th, 33 seconds down.
“I’m racing here for the overall and not concentrating on the young rider’s jersey. That’s just something that comes with the package when you’re going for GC,” he told Cyclingnews as he waited to go onto the podium and receive his jersey.
“I’ve been in the front echelons pretty much all of the time in the race and it’s just about being in the right place at the right time and then having the legs to back it up of course. We’ve also got Ian Stannard in third and he’s one second off second, so we’re both here to get on that podium and I don’t think there’s a reason why Ian can’t win the race.”
It was Etixx who ripped the race to pieces on stage two and although Rowe and Stannard finished in the main group of favourites the Belgian team have dominated this race on a number of occasions. According to Rowe the best form of defence might be attack, and he explained that Team Sky would try and move onto the front foot in the three remaining stages.
“You can respect them as a team but you can’t give them too much respect. They’re human. As a team they might be a bit stronger than we are but as individuals, they’re not. For sure, if we get a chance to take them on we’ll do everything we can.”
“I think it’s about taking the initiative. So if there’s a chance to split it, don’t wait for someone else to do it. We need to do it ourselves. If we can try and catch them off-guard and stick it in the gutter when they’re not there, we’ll be looking to do that.
"I’m feeling really good with where I am. Also in the races I’ve done before I’ve felt okay in the Tour Down Under and then finished fourth in the Cadel Evans race. The results and the form are starting to come and that’s a promising sign ahead of the Classics."
Rowe’s recent form, he says, is down to a new found confidence and a solid winter of training and improvements. He has certainly been a positive for Team Sky in Qatar and will be looking to take his form into the Classics season.
“I’d say the step for me started in the middle of last season. I stepped up a bit with the Vuelta and the Worlds and just finished the season on a high with a lot more confidence. Then came a good winter and it’s gone from there,” he told Cyclingnews.
“I’ve done that little bit of extra training, lost that little bit more weight and again confidence gained has been important.”