Tour de France 2017: Chris Froome win worth 'brutal' race, says Luke Rowe

Team Sky riders Chris Froome and Luke Rowe
Team Sky leader Chris Froome and Luke Rowe take a rare restful moment during the 2017 Tour de France
Tour de France: 1-23 July
Coverage: Live text commentary of every stage on the BBC Sport website. BBC Radio coverage on 5 live sports extra and/or website from 14:30 BST on every stage

Luke Rowe says seeing team-mate Chris Froome claim his fourth Tour de France on Sunday would make every painful moment of this year's race worthwhile.

The Team Sky road captain suffered injuries including a broken rib in a crash on the opening stage, but rode on to support team leader Froome.

"It's been brutal," said the Welshman.

"It's been the hardest Tour. I crashed on stage one and it just whacked me, broke a rib, hit my head and really shook me up."

Froome secured the yellow jersey in Saturday's penultimate stage, a 22.5km time trial in Marseille, extending his overall lead from 23 to 54 seconds with Rigoberto Uran second and Romain Bardet dropping to third.

Tradition dictates that no general classification rivals attack the yellow jersey on the final stage in Paris on Sunday, meaning Froome should win the race in Paris.

Geraint Thomas, Rowe's fellow rider from Cardiff - who became the first Welshman to wear the yellow jersey - was forced out with a broken collarbone after a crash on stage nine when second in the overall standings.

Rowe admits that if his own crash had not been in the Tour de France, then he might also have withdrawn because of his injuries.

"You never like to go home [early] from a race, but there's times I was in a bit of a mess, times were pretty tough," Rowe admitted.

"But when you've got the yellow jersey in the team and what I believe to be the best rider in the world, you're in that position where you've got to defend yellow.

"The only way you go home is if you physically can't ride your bike or missed the time limit... but if it had been another race then yeah, it could have been an early taxi.

"I knew I had a job to do and I battled through and did it.

"The first 10-12 days I was really struggling, the toughest Grand Tour I've ever done.

"It's been quite nice on a personal achievement to be here [at the end], to have made it to Paris. It's been a tough three weeks."

Luke Rowe
Luke Rowe has often done the hard work for Team Sky at the front of the peloton

Rowe is in line to claim the lanterne rouge, an unofficial award for the cyclist who completes the Tour in last place, as he finished in 167th in Marseille.

Unlike in other sports where last is seen as failure, the lanterne rouge carries respect as it honours the role of the domestiques - the team riders who sacrifice their own ambitions to help their team leader's bid for yellow.

Rowe has spent much of the 2017 Tour chasing down breakaways at the front, then bringing up the rear of the peloton having spent all his energy in Froome's cause.

The 27-year-old again typified that role in Saturday's time trial, as his earlier efforts were used to help his fellow Team Sky riders.

"For me it was more a case of absorbing as much information as possible that I could feed back to the lads, that was the most important thing," Rowe added.

"There was quite a bit of wind out there, a cobbled section, so where's best to ride, check out a few of the bends and... feed it back.

"It's a time trial with some big, long and straight boulevards so there's plenty of places to put the power down, then stay calm on the technical sections."

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