After sustaining more than 20 broken bones to his lower leg in a recreational accident last August, Luke Rowe announced via video message on Facebook that he will return to racing with Team Sky at the Abu Dhabi Tour from February 21 to 25.
"A lot of people have asked when I'll start racing and what I'll do next," said Rowe, who thanked his fans for their supportive messages over the last six months. "A lot of the season will be a big question mark. I'm not really sure what will happen for the rest of the season but I know that my first race back will be Abu Dhabi.
"I'm looking forward to getting back with the team. They've given me the best support possible and that is part of the reason I'm back so soon, for sure."
It is an early return for Rowe, who initially wanted to start racing again at the Commonwealth Games in April and was unlikely to make a return for the Classics.
Last August, Rowe broke his lower right leg and foot when he jumped straight-legged into shallow water while on a whitewater rafting trip that was part of a stag-party ahead of his brother's wedding.
Surgeons fit an 800-gramme metal rod in his shin and warned him he may never race again, and with another crash he might not walk again. He started his recovery using Zwift and also used an underwater treadmills, rowing machines and daily physiotherapy in December.
He joined Team Sky at a team camp in December in Mallorca, where he was riding with the team. He also said that he's progressed to gym workouts and hilly rides for as long as five hours.
"I still have a long road ahead of me to get back to where I want to be," Rowe said. "I've done a lot in the gym and swimming in the early stages, and a lot as part of my rehab. It's been pretty intense. I definitely feel like I'm getting somewhere now. My longest ride to date has been five and half a hours and with over 3,000 metres of climbing, so everything is going pretty well."
Although he starts racing this month, the rest of his racing calendar is unconfirmed. He said he would like to compete in the Classics: Paris-Roubaix, Tour of Flanders or E3 Harelbeke, and the Grand Tours, but it is too early for his team to decide his schedule and so he is on the reserve list for most events.
He is using the Abu Dhabi Tour as a first step to see where his fitness is and to see how well his leg has recovered.
"It's unbelievable to think that I'll be back that soon to racing. It's just a couple of weeks away now. From the diagnosis that I had at the start and partway through the rehab, I never though I'd be in a position to race at the end of February. So, it's just been amazing, really.
"I could go to Abu Dhabi and be good and be a benefit to the team or I could just get my ass handed to me. I'm not really sure.
"I'd love to ride the Classics. I love them races, they are where my heart is. But with the type of injury I sustained, with the cobbles, I'm not sure how that will play out. Never say never, eh? As for the Grand Tours, it's too early to say.
"Fingers crossed. It's all gone super well so far and I hope it continues on that trend."
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