Luke Rowe rode a bike on Saturday for the first time since breaking his leg, taking in a short session at the Newport velodrome. The Welshman is determined to make a comeback after suffering multiple fractures in his lower right leg but admits he is likely to miss the 2018 Classics campaign.
Rowe suffered more than 20 fractures in his leg in early August while white-water rafting with family and friends during his brother’s stag party. He underwent surgery, with a metal rod inserted to hold his bones together while they healed.
He soon began physiotherapy and attended Team Sky’s recent get-together as they made plans for the 2018 season. Most of his teammates have enjoyed their end of season holidays and know their goals for the forthcoming season, but Rowe knows he has to be more patient.
"It’s been busy and certainly it’s a bit of an adventure. I’ve come a long way already but there’s a long way still to come," Rowe said in a video interview produced by Team Sky.
"I haven’t really set myself a date, a target or a race. I just want to get back as soon as I can. Whether that’s Roubaix, whether that’s the Tour, I don’t care. I just want to get back as soon as possible.
“Everyone knows I’ve got a love for the Classics but I know it’s going to be unrealistic to be there. That’s going to be hard because they’re races I love.”
Rowe has been kept busy with daily physiotherapy and rehabilitation sessions in the gym and the swimming pool.
"I’m almost busier now that when I was riding a bike. You ride your bike for five hours and then you rest. Now it's go there for an hour, go there for two hours, it's full gas," Rowe said.
"Mentally it's harder because you're doing what you have to do, not what you want to do. When you’re on the bike, you go out, you meet with the lads; it’s something you do for pleasure. And it happens to be my job. I’m very, very privileged to say that.”
Rowe is very grateful for the understanding and support that Team Sky has shown him.
“The support has been mind blowing. First and foremost from just hours after doing it, Dave [Brailsford] texted me saying: 'You’re one of our own. Don’t worry mate, we'll get you back to where you are.' I don’t think many other team bosses would be like that. Fran Millar, Dr Usher, and physio Nathan Thomas have been unreal."
The eye of the tiger
Thomas explained that despite Rowe’s serious injury, his comeback is also an opportunity.
"He basically had multiple fractures in different parts of his leg. Luke’s sport is a lower leg-dominant sport, and he pretty much lost function of one of the tools of his trade," Thomas said.
"You’d expect an athlete to be more downbeat and be more negative but to give him credit, this is testament to his mental strength. He’s motivated and wants to get better. It’s an opportunity to also come back even better. He believes an injury is an opportunity to become an even better athlete and I think he will."
Rowe’s injury and rehabilitation has given him a chance to reflect on his career and fuel his determination to come back even stronger.
"I wouldn’t say I took it for granted, I always knew how lucky I was and knew the level of the racing we’re doing," Rowe said.
"It gives you the eye of the tiger, you think: 'When I get back, I’m going to smash it and get stuck into it.' I’m looking forward to that but, as I said, it's still a while away. But weeks and months pass quite quick, so hopefully I’ll be back before too long.”
"I haven’t really set myself a date, a race or a target, I’ve just said get back as soon as I can."
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