Another Welsh youngster to develop via the Maindy Flyers club, Rowe became a member of British Cycling’s Junior Academy and began making his mark with track success early in his career.
In 2007 he won gold at the UEC Junior European Track Championships in Cottbus, Germany and, in the same year, won the first of his three national Madison titles, with Adam Blythe.
A year later, Rowe’s talent at the Madison was again evident, as he teamed with Mark Christian to win the European junior title in Pruszkow, Poland, where he also came second in the team pursuit, with Christian, Andy Fenn and Erick Rowsell.
By 2009, Rowe’s ability on the road was beginning to shine through, notably at the leading under-23 one-day race, the ZLM Tour in the Netherlands, where he beat big-name rivals such as John Degenkolb, Elia Viviani and Taylor Phinney for his first major road victory.
Rowe also placed in the top ten in three stages of the Tour de l’Avenir, considered a junior version of the Tour de France, and carried that form into 2010 when he won the GP Sportivi di Poggiana, recorded a podium at the GP Industrie del Marmo, came sixth overall in the Tour of Berlin and offered a glimpse into his potential in the Classics by placing fifth in the junior version of the Tour of Flanders.
More Madison success
Having also won another national Madison title with Christian, Rowe also flew to Delhi to ride for England in the Commonwealth Games road race where he came ninth.
The 2011 campaign showed further progress, and would tempt Sky into signing him for 2012. Riding for the 100% me team, Rowe won the ZLM Tour for a second time and won the final stage of the Thuringen-Rundfahrt Under-23, one of five top 10 finishes he recorded in that race’s seven stages.
Rowe also recorded top ten overall finishes at the Tour de Normandie and Royal Smilde Olympias Tour as well as finding time to add his third national Madison title, this time with future Sky team mate Pete Kennaugh.
The 2012 season saw Rowe, having signed a two-year contract with Team Sky, record his first professional victory on the opening stage of the Tour of Britain, in Norfolk, in September which brought with it a spell in the leader’s jersey. Later that month, Rowe also placed second at the Duo Normand time trial, teamed with Alex Dowsett.
Rowe was also able to show his versatility in his debut season with Sky, gaining experience in one-day races as well as stage races, and that progress continued in 2013 when he placed ninth overall at the Tour of Qatar and rode a full Classics campaign before making his Grand Tour debut at the end of the summer, at the Vuelta a Espana.
In 2014, Rowe’s role as a valuable domestique with Team Sky was evident as he helped them record successes at Het Nieuwsblad, the Tours of Romandie and California, and Bayern-Rundfahrt. His second Grand Tour appearance, again in Spain, also saw him play an important role in assisting Chris Froome who finished second.
Rowe’s own personal aims saw him finish fourth in both road race and time trial at the British Cycling National Road Race Championships while he came sixth at the Commonwealth Games road race in Glasgow while helping Wales team mate Geraint Thomas win gold.
The summer of 2015 saw Rowe make his Tour de France debut, following Colin Lewis and Thomas as the only Welshmen to do so and completing all 21 stages, playing another key role in assisting team mate Froome to his second victory in the prestigious stage race.
The season had started impressively for the Welshman as he placed fourth at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and seventh overall at the Tour of Qatar before mid-February. That strong form was carried into the Classics where highlights included a ninth place finish at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, a race won by team mate Ian Stannard, and an eighth at Paris-Roubaix, ahead of Sir Bradley Wiggins who was riding his final race for Team Sky.
Rowe had firmly established himself as a Classics specialist and a potential winner of one-day races, and his 2016 Classics season underlined the point as he finished fourth at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and fifth at the Tour of Flanders as well as 14th at Paris-Roubaix as he helped Stannard onto the podium in third place.
His form as a domestique was also as impressive as in previous years and, after helping Froome win the Criterium du Dauphine in June, he was selected to ride in support of the team leader at the summer’s Tour de France.
Away from the bike
Rowe was raised in a cycling family, with his grandfather and father Courtney keen competitive riders and brother Matt also a racing cyclist, and began in the sport by riding a tandem.
A young rider with the Cardiff Ajax Cycling Club and Maindy Flyers, Rowe was one of a number of Welsh juniors to gain track experience with Maindy and work their way onto the British Cycling Team, a list that includes Thomas, Elinor Barker and Owain Doull.
A keen fan of local ice hockey team the Cardiff Devils, and of Star Wars movies and the Welsh rock band The Stereophonics, Rowe claims he would be in the army or fire service were he not a professional cyclist.
Among his personal trivia away from cycling, Rowe claims to have won the Welsh open clog dancing championships at the age of 11.