As Team Sky's first line of defense at the Tour de France this year, Luke Rowe and Gianni Moscon were an important tandem for the opening kilometres of the stages. With the Italian having been sent home in disgrace for throwing a punch at Fortuneo's Elie Gesbert, Rowe and the rest of the Team Sky squad will have to shoulder the responsibility of taking on the workload vacated by Moscon.
"I wouldn't say double up but it gives each of us that little bit of extra workload," Rowe told Cyclingnews at the start of stage 16 in Carcassonne.
“Normally it would be me and him riding first, as we've seen, but now it's me and Castroviejo. That does leave us a guy short but we were the only GC team left in the race with eight guys. So we're just in the same boat as the rest. It's a shame and it's disappointing but it is what it is."
Team Sky currently sit one and two on GC with Geraint Thomas in yellow and Chris Froome, the defending champion, second at 1:39. Controlling the Tour de France is nothing new for the British WorldTour team, having won four of the previous five editions. However the lack of Moscon's firepower on the flats and in the early mountains means that Froome and Thomas may be isolated earlier than planned.
When asked if this could tactically benefit Froome over Thomas, their teammate Rowe responded: "It's the same for both of them because they're both aiming for the same goal. Equally. I don't know. That's a question for them. I just do my job for as long as I can and then leave it to the big boys. That's for them to work out. I just chug along."
"I still feel fresh, and I feel solid going into the last few days."
“The atmosphere is good. We're first and second in GC and it's a dream. That's what every team wants. You see the odd thing about rivalry but there's been none of that [within the team -ed]. The way they've ridden so far they've complemented each other. Despite there being only six days left there's still some big days. We're not counting our chickens just yet."
Stage 16 finishes in Luchon and Team Sky will be forced to work with the break expected to take time to form before the race reaches the first climb.
"It could be a long stint on the front again," Rowe said. "The breakaway could take a long time to go. There's a lot of controlling to do. And then it's about keeping the break at a reasonable time. It's a big day but there's no easy day at the Tour de France."