Speaking to Cyclingnews ahead of the race, Team Sky directeur sportif Servais Knaven said that there were high expectations of Luke Rowe, from both the team and the rider himself. After the race Rowe admitted that his sixth place at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad was not quite what he wanted, saying that he lacked the punch to follow the attacks from the leaders when the race split up with 54 kilometres remaining.
Despite that, the 26-year-old was relatively pleased with his condition during the race and wasn't going to dismiss a top-10 finish in a race with such a high level of competition.
“It’s not what you come into the race dreaming of doing, but at the same time, it’s sixth place in a WorldTour one-day classic so you can’t shrug your shoulders at it,” he said after warming down outside the Team Sky bus. “Maybe I lacked a bit of punch on the Eikenberg. When the three leaders attacked, I was right there, but I simply couldn’t react. Those three were the strongest guys and they rode away, and there was nothing that I could do.
“I felt I could have had another 40km or an hour more racing, and I could have kept going at a similar pace. I felt ok, but I was just missing a bit of top end. When those three guys went, they were just too strong.”
At times it seemed like the group of 13 chasing riders would close the gap to the three leaders - Peter Sagan, Sep Vanmarcke and winner Greg Van Avermaet. Rowe said that the effort was a concerted one, but after dropping to just below 30 seconds it didn’t drop any further and the chasers were almost a minute back when they crossed the line.
“Everyone committed well to the chase. We rode straight away and when the group thinned out after the Molenberg everyone rode as hard as they could,” said Rowe. “When you’re trying to chase those guys, you’re talking about the three best current Classics riders so it’s never easy to catch them. There was good cohesion in the group, everyone was riding quite well, and I was quite happy to roll through and take my turn. Like I said, with a tailwind like that, everyone knew that it was going to be hard to bring them back.”
Rowe will have another crack at the whip on Sunday with Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, a race known for its unpredictability. Should it come to the line with a bunch, Rowe’s teammate Danny van Poppel is the likely contender for Team Sky, but it could just as likely come down to a breakaway where Rowe, if he feels ok, could take a flyer.
“I feel good, it’s another massive one-day on the calendar,” he said. “There’s not many of them and we’ll go all guns blazing. I’ve just had a little spin on the turbo, the legs hurt but it’s pretty much the same guys tomorrow as today, so everyone is in the same boat. I’ll give it another crack tomorrow.”
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