Monday, 11 March 2013

One To Watch: Michal Kwiatkowski

When we think of Omega Pharma-Quick-Step it's not often we think of the general classification in stage races, the exception usually being Tony Martin who can TT his way to a week-long race win if the course is not overly mountainous, but if you have been watching Tirreno-Adriatico this week, you may now be familiar with this name: Michal Kwiatkowski...

Until yesterday the 22 year old Polish national was leading the race in Italy, he couldn't quite hold the ferocious pace on yesterday final leg-breaking sections and now finds himself 24 second down on his rivals - those rivals being the likes of Chris Froome, Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali, some very interesting and exceptionally talented company indeed.

So where has this kid come from? He's holding the wheels of the worlds best climbers and yet until now he has gone largely unnoticed but that isn't to say he hasn't had any good results, quite the opposite in fact.
He can ride a mean Time Trial

At only 22 Kwiatkowski has been no stranger to success in the youth ranks, in fact it's worth noting that he was Junior World Time Trial Champion which could mean tomorrows final Time Trial in Italy might be quite interesting, he's already declared that the TT is 'his thing' and that he will try to take time out of the big names here. Michal was also European Junior Road Race champion in 2007 and TT champion in 2008 leading to his National Road Race U23 victory in 2009 before signing for the Caja Rural team in 2010.

In 2011 Kwiatkowski signed for Radioshack and hit the bottom step of the podium three times finishing third overall in Driedaagse van West-Vlaaderen, Three Days of De Panne and the Tour du Poitou-Charentes - a possible sign of things to come.

Kwiatkowski In The Tirreno Leaders
Jersey, and Congratulations from Mark
2012 saw the youngster join Omega Pharma-Quick-step where he has his most successful season to date, winning the prologue in Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen, finishing 8th over in the Eneco Tour and a very respectable 2nd overall in the Tour of Poland, just behind current big-hitter and Strade Bianche winner Moreno Moser.

2013 has already seen him reach the second step of the podium in a stage race - the Volta as Algarve, a 1-2 for OPQS with Team Leader Tony Martin winning overall. If Kwiatkowski can hold his position in Tirreno-Adriatico (he's currently in the White young riders jersey) or better still climb onto the podium then it really will announce his arrival in the WorldTour.

Kwiatkowski's goal for the season is to ride his first Grand Tour and with his current form OPQS might be looking to add him in to their Giro or even Tour de France squad though it looks more likely that he will make his Grand Tour debut at the Vuelta a Espana at the end of the year - if this is the case don't be surprised to find him working his way up the general classification - depending on the field it wouldn't be to adventurous to imagine Kwiatkowski in the Young Riders Classification jersey at the end of the three week long Spanish race...

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