Rowe rips it up at Gent-Wevelgem

31 Mar 2019

Rowe rips it up at Gent-Wevelgem

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Gent-Wevelgem in Flanders Fields, 251.5km

Luke Rowe put in a spirited and attacking ride at Gent-Wevelgem, enlivening the race with a number of attacks.
 
The Welshman found himself off the front after an hour of racing as part of an elite 18-man group, but once that move was hauled back Rowe continued to go on the attack.
 
Heading into the final 50km he launched an audacious bid to bridge across to the four-man group which led the way, heading into the final loop of climbs. Making the catch, Rowe looked strong the final time up the Kemmelberg, combining with Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Mike Teunissen (Jumbo-Visma), Edward Theuns (Trek Segafredo) and Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott), with the gap floating at around 40 seconds.
 
Eventually the peloton clawed back the time, but Rowe was still not done with a last-gasp solo dig with 17km to go. Eventually finishing 18th in the sprint, Rowe had even tried to launch another late move on the run into Wevelgem – buoyed by his form ahead of the Monuments to come.

Luke Rowe

You're committed then and you're in no man's land, so it was either get across or blow up trying.
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- Luke Rowe

"It's nice to bounce back. Through Paris-Nice and San Remo it's all gone pretty well and I felt good. For some reason or another E3 was just a massive fail for me and I was quite disappointed actually. I was quite keen to put things right this morning. Again we finished the race without a result, but just to be at the front and have good legs and sensations is the important thing before the coming weeks, I think I can be happy about today.

"I wasn't surprised at all to see the early move go. I'd seen it coming all day long. It was windy right from the start and splitting up from 500 metres into the race. It was just a matter of time before a group went. Every DS in the team car was saying 'crosswinds, crosswinds'. When you have a group of 20 or so riders, and teams like Bora, Jumbo and Trek have numbers, they are always going to keep the momentum up. I'm not surprised how far it went either."

On bridging across to the four-man group, he added:

"I lost a year of my life there! Those four had gone clear and I'd kind of missed the boat which was disappointing. After the gravel roads I just sensed everyone was on their knees. I still had a little bit of gas left so I thought I'd hit out on a little climb and hopefully bring one or two with me. Then you look around and you're on your own! You're committed then and you're in no man's land, so it was either get across or blow up trying. So I just went full gas and managed it. When you close a gap sometimes you can do the first half quite easily and then the second half took five or six kilometres. Luckily I just made it so I had a few kilometres before the Kemmelberg.

"We actually didn't go that hard up the Kemmelberg. I said to the guys just before it, if we split up we have no chance with the headwind to the finish. So we took it at a speed so all five of us got over it together. Then it was 30km into our headwind. That was our only chance. They got organised behind unfortunately. 

"Now I think there can be a bit of excitement going into Flanders."
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Final result:

1. Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Team Emirates) 5:26:08
2. John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) s.t.
3. Oliver Naesen (Ag2r-La Mondiale)
4. Mathieu van der Poels (Correndon-Circus)
5. Danny van Poppel (Jumbo-Visma)
18. Luke Rowe (Team Sky) 

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