Luke Rowe has hailed the impact of the fans’ support after rounding off a superb start to the season with the Rider of the Month award in February.
The month began with a superb solo breakaway win in the intense heat on stage two of the Herald Sun Tour which had the Welshman struggling to remember how to celebrate, joking: “I kind of forgot how to do it all so it’s nice to get the hands in the air.”
February was bookended with a sixth-placed finish in the rain and sleet of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, before he secured his best-ever performance at the Classics, finishing third the following day at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, which he believes helped his cause.
He told TeamSky.com: “It’s the first time I have won this sort of thing and it’s nice to see that the fans appreciate the fact that you’ve put the work to get into the shape to be able to be competitive.”
“So it’s nice to know the people out there appreciate it after two solid rides in Belgium.”
I think the Belgians just love anyone who loves their racing and they take people onboard and adopt them as Belgian
He added: “I think the Belgians just love anyone who loves their racing and they take people onboard and adopt them as Belgian.
“They are so passionate about bike racing, but not only bike racing but the Classics, particularly when other riders apart from Belgians really embrace the races.
“They like good ol’ hard racing and its been quite a few years that I’ve been going over there and they are getting to know that I am a big fan of their racing.”
An iconic moment from his Kuurne podium appearance was a hefty swig of the sponsors’ beer, met with cheers from the crowd, which the Welshman believes may have added to his legend, chuckling, “I necked it in one so maybe that was the icing on the cake.”
He said: “The first big difference is that last weekend I was going into it as a leader and then now I'm going in as a workhorse - so that’s the first transition and first thing to get your head around.
“The terrain is also chalk and cheese. we go up to 1500 metres on some pretty big, solid climbs.
“It is a big transition and you just have to accept it for what it is, I haven’t done the big climbs for a long time so I don’t expect to be too much of mountain goat but just do what I can, when I can and hopefully the leaders can finish it off - which I have every confidence they can.”