Vuelta a Espana: Luke Rowe admits hilly Grand Tour debut will be 'massive step up'
Last Updated: 23/08/13 5:34pm
Luke Rowe is making his first appearance in a three-week race
Britain's Luke Rowe has admitted making his Grand Tour debut at a severely mountainous Vuelta a Espana over the next few weeks will be "massive step up".
The 23-year-old has been named in Team Sky's nine-man squad for the three-week event, which starts on Saturday in Vilanova de Arousa and will take in a punishing 11 summit finishes before the final stage into Madrid on September 15.
It is one of the hardest routes seen in cycling in recent years and is certain to prove a baptism of fire for Rowe, who has never ridden a 21-stage race before.
He is nevertheless relishing the challenge and hopes to end the Vuelta a stronger and more experienced rider than he is now.
"It is my first Grand Tour, so I don't know what to expect, but I am just going to go into it and try and do the best job I can for the team," he told Sky Sports News.
"It is definitely a massive step up from anything I have ever done before, so hopefully I can come out the other end that bit more experienced."
Rowe will play a supporting role to Sergio Henao, whose climbing expertise has been called upon to spearhead Team Sky's general classification (GC) challenge.
"I think if I can get through the Vuelta in good shape and get to the end not completely cream-crackered and with good legs, it will be good preparation heading into the world championships."
The duo will be joined in the squad by Rigoberto Uran, Dario Cataldo, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Vasil Kiryienka, Christian Knees, Salvatore Puccio and Xabier Zandio.
"I think it is a good all-round team," Rowe added. "We have got every box ticked in terms of different types of riders for the different types of terrain.
Going for the win
"We have got Sergio going for GC and, by the sounds of it, he is in the form of his life. I definitely think we are going there to try and win the race."
Rowe also hopes a good performance in the Vuelta will enhance his chances of being selected for the Great Britain squad at the world championships in Florence next month.
The Welshman is on a long list of riders in contention to support Chris Froome's bid to win the road race and is confident the season's final Grand Tour will provide perfect preparation.
He said: "I think if I can get through the Vuelta in good shape and get to the end not completely cream-crackered and with good legs, it will be good preparation heading into the world championships."