While he acknowledged that he must accept the decision, Rowe said it was particularly hard to take after fighting to recover from the broken leg he suffered in August last year. The initial prognosis was that he would have to sit out the entire Classics campaign.
"I was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel," Rowe told journalists after the race. "To be in the front, feeling good and then to be told to pull out of the race, I'm absolutely gutted and it's heart-wrenching. I could see the commissaires seen the video and seen me in the bunch of pedestrians and made a decision, and I've got to live with that.
"The reason I was there in the first place was through no fault of my own," Rowe said. "There was a big flick in the line and I ended up there. The commissaires are the bosses, they made the decision and as soon as they say that, you're out of the race."
Rowe said he pulled out of the race within 60 seconds of hearing about the decision over his radio.
"I think they made a wrong decision, I'll say that, but at the same time they made a decision and I'll have to live with that," he said. "Essentially, it's gut-wrenching to be in the front with 30 guys at the final of Flanders. After what I've been through to get here, I put myself through Hell to be here. I'm just really gutted. You have to live with it."
Rowe had been with the main peloton with 58 kilometres to go, as they approached the Oude Kwaremont for the second time. As the peloton moved to the right momentarily, Rowe moved into the bike path on the right side of the road to avoid some road furniture. A gap to move back into the road was closed off when two spectators, who had been right alongside the road, stepped back. Ultimately, Rowe carried along the path and found himself in the middle of a crowd of spectators before eventually extricating himself.
"There's nobody to blame. It's just wrong place, wrong time," he said. "There was absolutely no benefit to be there. As soon as I ended up here, I thought, 'Fuck, I'm in a mess here. I want to get off this bike path as soon as possible.' I was coming at speed and I was braking and braking. As soon as it was safe and possible, I did it [moved back onto the road- ed].
"I was there through no fault of my own, and I'd never choose to use the bike path. They made a decision, they're the bosses and I have to live it."
In the end, Dylan van Baarle was Team Sky's best finisher in 12th place. Rowe tried to take some positives out of the performance while looking forward to the final cobbled Classics of the spring, Paris-Roubaix.
"I know the legs are good and it just fuels the fire," he said. "It's in one week's time, I'm ready, I know the legs are good. I just want to go there and have a nice race and a good battle and hopefully salvage something. It's hard to really talk about it. I'm gutted. I'm really gutted."
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