It’s been a while since we last spoke to young English rider Erick Rowsell (and yes, that’s his sister) – it was at the time when he was one of eight Endura riders (and just five Britons) to survive the inevitable cull which occurred when the team merged with German Pro Continental squad, Netapp for season 2013.
Netapp punched above their weight during season 2012 with strong performances all over Europe – notably the Giro, where they refused to lay down to the World Tour squadra.
Rowsell has been around a while, despite the fact that he’s only 23 years-old and NetApp could obviously see potential
In 2007 he took bronze in the British junior road race championship and individual pursuit champs as well as gold in the junior time trial champs.
The following season saw him with strong placings in continental road events; win the junior Tour of Wales and the British junior road race championship – whilst on the track he took two junior European silver medals, in the individual and team pursuit.
The following two seasons the medal tally slowed down, but in 2011 he was in the GB teams which came third in the team pursuit in the Beijing World Cup and second at the U23 European championships. On the road he took third in the U23 Tour of Berlin and 11th in the U23 Het Nieuwsblad.
At start the of 2012 we asked what his ambitions were for the year; ‘its something completely new, a chance to carry on developing, learn about different races, help my team get results – and it would be nice to get some results myself.’
And get results he did.
His stage win in the tough Tour de Normandie was against opposition which included Rabobank Continental, Bretagne Schuller, Lotto-Belisol, Itera-Katusha and Leopard-Trek.
And whilst stages in the late lamented Tour Doon Hame were never easy to win, he added one to his palmarès.
However, his season was compromised by a crash in the European U23 Road Race Championship in the Netherlands and a bad collarbone break.
Last season was a long one, starting in Oman and ending in Lombardy with stage races in West Flanders, Italy, The Netherlands, Turkey, China, Spain and Great Britain along the way.
We spoke to Erick at the NetApp-Endura training camp before his season kicked off and he took a top 20 placing in the Clasica de Almeria.
How’s that collarbone, Erick?
“I got the metal plates out in October after my season finished.
“It was a really bad break which required three hours of surgery – but fingers crossed, it’s fine now.”
You had a busy year, around 70 race days.
“Yeah, it was a big step up from 2012 when I had around 40 UCI race days – but it’s not just the number of races; it’s the quality of the fields and the longer distances too.
“It takes you a while to get used to the longer race distances but it’s not just that, there’s the aspect of recovery to be ready for the next race.
“The jump in levels was pretty much what I expected and then of course there’s the extra travel on top.
“But the logistics are all very professionally handled at Pro Continental level and all of that said – I do like to race a lot.”
Qinghai must have been an eye opener?
“It was an experience, for sure!
“I think that after the Grand Tours it’s the longest race on the UCI calendar.
“It’s a tough race and you have to deal with a different culture around the race – but I think it was a really good experience for developing my core.”
And Lombardia was a hard way to end the year.
“I wasn’t great in that race and was DNF.
“A few of us in the team had been ill with food poisoning but it was nice to have started such a famous race.”
Which 2013 result pleases you most?
“It’s hard to pick one, I didn’t have any standout rides but I was pleased to finish Qinghai.
“The aim for 2013 was to build and learn and I feel I achieved that.”
Toughest racing of 2013?
“Qinghai again but as for one day races go Het Nieuwsblad was tough; I was just back from Oman and you’re thrown right into the first Belgian Cobbled Classic of the year – and they’re tough.”
Did you get much freedom in 2013?
“I had the odd opportunity but my role was a supporting one most of the time and I’m more than happy to perform that function.”
How was the winter?
“I took four weeks off and started on 1st November.
“I’ve upped-sticks and moved to Gerona in Northern Spain to take advantage of the weather, quiet roads and the fact that there are plenty of guys to train with.
“Paul Voss from my team is there and I’ve been out with Dan Martin and Dave Millar.”
How’s the programme looking?
“Pretty good; we have a lot of Belgian and Italian racing coming up but you can’t be sure about the bigger races until they announce the wild card selections – that’s one of the problems about Pro Continental, it’s not automatic entry for the major races like it is at World Tour level.”
How did the training camps go?
“We did a lot of hard work; a lot of climbing but I felt I came up a level from the training I’d been doing.
“We were very lucky with the weather in Majorca – it only rained one morning but we still got out in the afternoon.”
What do you want from 2014?
“I don’t have any specific targets; I just want to continue to build on what I’ve learned over the last two seasons.”
Lessons from 2013?
“A lot of small things, no massive things in particular – all just part of the process…”