Luke Rowe: Team Sky cyclist targets podium at Tour of Flanders

By Dafydd JonesBBC Sport Wales
Luke Rowe
Luke Rowe during last year's Tour of Flanders event

Luke Rowe is targeting a podium finish at this Sunday's Tour of Flanders.

The 26-year-old will lead Team Sky's challenge alongside Englishman Ian Stannard in the one-day classic.

Welshman Rowe, who has a top finish of third this season, feels improving on his fifth place at Flanders in 2016 is the next natural aim, having finished outside the top 50 in 2015.

"I'm pretty optimistic ahead of the race, and podium would be the next step up," he told BBC Radio Wales Sport.

"But to just be in a position where you're leading one of the biggest professional cycling teams in the world in one of the biggest professional cycling races in the world is a nice position to be in."

The 2017 Tour of Flanders takes place in Belgium on Sunday, 2 April, with the gruelling 260.8km route including 18 climbs and cobbled sectors.

The following Sunday on 9 April riders will tackle Paris-Roubaix, the 257km route between Compiegne and Roubaix in Northern France, known also as Hell of the North.

Rowe feels he can make an impact in both races.

"For me they're the biggest two races of the season and they're the two races which suit my characteristics and I know I can perform in them," he said.

"They're just special, real iconic events in our sport and I'm really looking forward to getting stuck into them.

"It'll be six or seven hours, 250-260km full focus and hopefully things will fall into place and I'll get some good results."

Rowe will then turn his attention to preparing for the Tour de France and helping team-mate Chris Froome win a fourth title.

After competing in the race in 2015 and 2016 the Welshman is very much looking forward to being involved again.

"I've been there the past few years and Froomey (Chris Frome) has won them both, and to be part of that winning team has been pretty special," he said.

"I could potentially race the Tour of Yorkshire because I like to race on home roads and then I'll do an altitude camp up in Mount Etna and then I'll do the Dauphine.

"It's a pretty hectic programme but I hope to keep myself ticking over and gain a place in the Tour de France squad again and do the business for Froomey."

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