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There's more to life than cycling: Luke Rowe on his return from injury

Joe Robinson
25 Jan 2018

After a double leg break on his brother's stag do, Luke Rowe talks us through his recovery and missing the Spring Classics

It has been nearly six months since Luke Rowe (Team Sky) broke his right leg while white-water rafting on his brother's stag-do in Prague. The incident saw Rowe suffer 25 separate fractures and he had to have a metal rod inserted to piece his shinbone back together.

The physical damage from such a serious injury could easily be career-ending on its own, but the psychological effects can be just as damaging. After suffering this calibre of injury, many top athletes would find themselves buried in a world of self-doubt, wondering if they could ever return to the level they once were at.

Yet, for the 27-year-old Welshman, this extended time away from the 'circus' has allowed him to take a new perspective on the world of cycling.

'There's more to life than cycling,' Rowe says of his time on the sidelines. 'Coming out of the circus of racing, then training, then racing, you can step back from cycling and see things from a different perspective.

'I didn't watch much racing [initially] and I didn't go to any races. I got to go back to Cardiff and caught up on a few things. When you are always in the front row you can easily get caught up in it all.'

While he may have taken a step back from the world of professional cycling, Rowe was always determined to recover as quickly as possible.

It took just five weeks and two days before he was wheeled back into a gym by his partner to begin his rehabilitation. Not long after, he was on the turbo trainer, at first pedalling with one leg and then in time with both, though with a cast still wrapped around his injured leg.

As soon as the cast came off, the training stepped up with sessions in the pool, increased gym work and more time on Zwift. This pragmatic approach to getting better was the only way for Rowe.

'I just had to crack on and look forward. As soon as i took that mentality and got my chin up, everything turned into a positive because everything you did was progression.'

The season ahead

The prospect of Rowe's return to Team Sky's ranks is a rare bit of positive news in what has been a difficult few months for the team.

Chris Froome's salbutamol case continues to linger over the team like a dark cloud and Froome's absence from this year's Tour de France is a genuine possibility. That would be a major blow to Team Sky, never mind if they were also forced to do without their road captain Rowe.

Yet rushing back to race is not a priority for Rowe. While he appreciates the race's importance and has previously stated his ambition to ride this year's Tour, he is aware of the risk of returning prematurely.

'I said in passing that I would like to ride this year's Tour but that's because it is always my big aim of the year, after the Classics,' Rowe said.

'I've been to the Tour three time and we have won three times. So now I look at it and say if I go great, if I don't it's not the end of the world, there are other races.'

'The worst thing I could do is rush back so I'm just going to see where this rollercoaster takes me.'

One place it definitely won't be taking Rowe is to this year's Spring Classics, and the Welshman admits it will be hard sitting on the sidelines for races he might otherwise have been aiming to win.

'When the leg break happened I didn't feel like I was missing out on anything at first, but I know as soon as the Classics start with Omloop (Het Nieuwsblad), and then on to the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, it will start to hurt.'

'I am passionate about those races, I love them and happen to be half-decent at them too. I am going to miss being in the thick of it and it will definitely be hard to take.'