The Welshman was part of a committed performance in the Flemish cycling heartland, sprinting home to pick up Team Sky’s best result in the Belgian Monument to date.
Once again the final one-two punch of the Oude Kwaremont and the Paterberg proved to be decisive, with Sagan (Tinkoff) pushing and distancing Michal Kwiatkowski before ramming home his advantage on the final climb of the day. The end result was a superb solo victory for the world champion, 25 seconds ahead of Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo).
“As a team we rode pretty well today,” Rowe told TeamSky.com after the race. “We were always at the front and we said we’d try and put a man in every move after the Koppenberg and I think we did that. On a personal level I’m obviously pretty chuffed with that. We didn’t win the race but it’s another step forward. I’ve got to be happy with that.
“That last (climb of the) Paterberg is just an absolute slog. It’s just whoever has anything left in the legs, but I still felt relatively alright. I attacked on there with (Alexander) Kristoff and we got across to G’s group. But it was just too little too late to catch the guys in front. Especially with a decent tailwind it was always going to be tough. It seems like 10 seconds over here is like a minute anywhere else. It’s so hard to close the smallest of gaps.”
The big races keep coming for Rowe and Sky, with attention turning to Paris-Roubaix in a week’s time, with a stop off at Scheldeprijs on Wednesday.
“We’re doing a recon of Roubaix on Tuesday and then we’ll ride Scheldeprijs on Wednesday,” he added. “Then it’s just a case of feet up, rest, recover, and focus on Roubaix.”
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classics cobbles fabian cancellara luke rowe michal kwiatkowski Peter Sagan ronde van vlaanderen Sky tour of flanders