Luke Rowe: ′If people call it domination, I take that as a compliment′ | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 16.07.2019
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Tour de France

Luke Rowe: 'If people call it domination, I take that as a compliment'

He's helped his teammates to Tour de France glory in each of the last four years. Welshman Luke Rowe is one of the unsung heroes of the Tour. Speaking to DW, he discusses the dominance of Team Ineos, and its fragility.

DW: You have been part of Team Ineos, formerly Team Sky, for quite a while now. Is it sometimes a bit annoying for you to hear that your team is too dominant?

Luke Rowe: From the outside for sure it could look like we are the dominant team and that we are always in control of the race. But for sure there are times where we're on the brink of cracking, and it could easily just go wrong in a second. But yes, I can understand that people could get frustrated or annoyed. But that doesn't change how we operate. We try the best we can — and if that results in people saying it's domination, I take that as a compliment.

We have seen you racing for hours at the front of the peloton, doing an important job. Could you explain the work involved in controlling the race?

You can only control the race if you have the yellow jersey or are in a position where you can take it, that is the first thing. And it's no given. It has been the situation the past few years but we don't take it for granted that we are in that position. To control the race means to spend a lot of kilometers at the front, chasing back the breakaway if needed.

Tour de France 2018 | Geraint Thomas und Luke Rowe (picture-alliance/Augenklick/Roth)

The winner and his wingman: Last years winner Geraint Thomas (l.) and his Welsh compatriot Luke Rowe (r.)

What is necessary to become a member of the Tour de France team of Ineos?

I think it's certainly a tough thing to do. To be part of the eight man lineup is an honor. There is a long list of people who could replace me, or any one of us essentially. So, the first thing [you need] is form to be selected for the team. To achieve this more and more guys are going to altitude now ahead of the Tour de France [training at altitude in thin air can improve a rider's stamina — editor's note]. I was trying to avoid that but I was dragged off to one camp (laughs)! It's not what I really enjoy, being in isolation up there for 10 days. So it is a big workload you have to do. You have to prepare what you do here, riding a lot of kilometers. And then you are ready to rumble.

Egan Bernal has impressed so far this season. But some say he is too young and too inexperienced to win the Tour. What do you say?

Yes, he is just 22. But this is just a small figure. Being ready or not is about more than just age. He is older than his years, you know. He has already won three WorldTour stage races: He has won the Tour of California, Paris-Nice and the Tour de Suisse. And if you look at Paris-Nice, which was the most impressive of his wins, that covered everything: time trial, crosswinds, sprints, mountains. He stayed at the front. He is just a natural leader. He has got an aura, the personality, that pit-bull mentality that Chris Froome has too. Egan has that. He is the type of guy that I'd ride to the end of the world for. He is the guy I absolutely commit for. The road to Paris will show what Egan can do.

Luke Rowe, born in 1990 in Cardiff, hails from Britain's Olympic Development Programme, like so many of the country's current crop of top cyclists. Rowe joined Team Sky in 2012 and his biggest win was a stage victory at the Tour of Britain. His larger achievement is too easily forgotten; his role helping Team Ineos win the last four editions of the Tour de France. As a domestique of his captains Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal, it's his task to control the race by riding a lot of kilometers at the front of the pack, helping to pull his team leaders along in his wake ready for the final phases of the stages.

The interview was conducted by Joscha Weber.

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