Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Cycling

Luke Rowe is the key to Tour de France joy for Chris Froome

By Matt McGeehan

Luke Rowe is ready to selflessly flog himself at the Tour de France to aid the cause of Team Sky leader Chris Froome. Rowe is one of five Britons in the Team Sky squad which is geared around Froome reclaiming the yellow jersey he won in 2013.

The Tour begins tomorrow in Utrecht with 10 British riders, equalling the record set in 1955.

Rowe, who will be making his Tour debut, said: "My job and my ambition is just to be alongside Chris Froome and help him out every day for as long as I can."

Froome described the first nine days of racing like a classic every day.

Rowe has form in that regard -he was the highest-placed Briton in April's Paris-Roubaix one-day race over the cobbles of northern France - and knew the route suited him. "It's a big factor why I'm there," the 25-year-old from Cardiff added.

"My characteristics suit the first nine days quite well and that's certainly an influential factor on the reason why I'm in the team.

"As soon as the route was announced (last October) I looked at it straight away and eyed up a few stages that would suit me and where I could really contribute to Froomey and the boys."

Froome did not even make it to the mountains where the Tour is won last year, crashing out on stage five after three collisions in two days resulted in a fractured hand and broken wrist.

This year's route is challenging and again goes over the cobblestones where riders' Tour could end abruptly.

Rowe knows Team Sky have to protect their leader, but there is little that can be done in a race which is sure to have casualties again.

Rowe added: "You can be the best bike handler in the world - if you're in the wrong place at the wrong time, you're going to go down.

"We've got to put last year behind us. We're going to do everything we can to keep Froomey at the front for three weeks and out of trouble."

His major rivals -defending champion Vincenzo Nibali, 2013 runner-up Nairo Quintana and multiple Grand Tour winner Alberto Contador - have had different preparations but Rowe knows Froome is in the form to deliver, having won the traditional Tour warm-up the Criterium du Dauphine.

"Froomey's had a bit more of a relaxed approach to this Tour de France. The pressure is not as much, we're not the current champion.

"The way he's built up, trained and the way he's looking on the bike at the moment, he's got some absolutely incredible form.

"It's hard to predict who is going to come out on top. We won't go down without a big fight and hopefully we can do everything possible," added Rowe.

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph