Team Sky have announced that Poland's Michal Kwiatkowski has extended his contract with the British WorldTour team for a further three years, with the hope of developing his talents as a stage race rider and eventually targeting Grand Tours.
Kwiatkowski played a vital role in helping Chris Froome win his fourth Tour de France in July and then won the Clasica San Sebastian. He is currently training at altitude before targeting the Tour of Britain and Il Lombardia.
"I'm really happy that I have the opportunity to re-sign for the next three years. I've had great support from the team for the past two seasons - both last year, when I had a really difficult season, and this year, which has been great," he said in a statement from Team Sky.
"I've only been here for one and a half years, but it feels like far longer. That's what I need - to feel supported, like part of a family, otherwise it can be difficult. I'm really happy to be a part of the Team Sky family. I'm looking forward to the future with Team Sky because I believe it's the best team for my abilities and I truly believe I can win lots more races in the future here."
Kwiatkowski turned professional with the Caja Rural team in 2010 and first showed his huge potential while at Omega Pharma-QuickStep in 2012 when he finished second at the Tour de Pologne and then fourth overall at Tirreno-Adriatico in 2013. He won the world road race championships in Ponferrada in 2014 and was third in the best young rider competition at the Tour de France. He won the Amstel Gold Race in 2015 and was second at Paris-Nice, confirming his broad range of talents.
His first season at Team Sky in 2016 was difficult after apparently losing too much weight and over training during the winter. He won the E3 Harelbeke Classic but quit the Vuelta a Espana after a week, only racing for 56 days. He bounced back in 2017, winning Strade Bianche, beating Peter Sagan in the sprint to win Milan-San Remo, and finishing second at the Amstel Gold Race and third at Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
Kwiatkowski earned a place in Team Sky's Tour de France squad and gave his all for Chris Froome during the race, often grinding to a near standstill after going deep for his team leader. He finished just a second behind Maciej Bodnar in the Marseille time trial and a week later used his form to win the Clasica San Sebastian.
"So far it has been the season of my career and I'm happy that it's not over yet," Kwiatkowski said
"It's been amazing. I've found my spot in the team, have won some really big races, and performed well at the Tour de France, which I was aiming for."
A step-by-step approach to Grand Tours
Kwiatkowski showed signs of his own Grand Tour potential in July but, at 27, he refuses to be pushed towards becoming a Grand Tour rider.
"Some people would like to put me in a box and say I should go in this direction, or that direction, but I truly believe it's all about being patient and doing things step-by-step," he argued.
"If I continue to work on my climbing and time trialling, if I can perform well in one-week stage races like Paris-Nice and the Dauphine, and if there are signs that I could perform well in a Grand Tour, then yes, I will take that chance. I think I am in the best place to do that."
Froome – who extended his contract with Team Sky just before the Tour de France, thanked Kwiatkowski for his tireless work during the Tour de France and said that Team Sky are lucky to have him.
"Kwiato has had a brilliant year. He's obviously had some great wins himself, but to me his performance in the Tour de France epitomised everything about him and what he brings to Team Sky," Froome said in a statement from the team.
"As a rider he is just so versatile and selfless. Whether that's riding at the front on the flat, his understanding of how a race is unfolding, getting his teammates into the right position in the sprints or being last man in be mountains. He's the definition of an all-round rider and we're lucky to have him."
Targeting the Tour of Britain, World Championships and Il Lombardia
Kwiatkowski celebrated his contract extension with a training ride at altitude during a training camp at Livigno. On Monday he climbed to the summit of the Passo dello Stelvio with Roman Kreuziger and Zdenek Stybar.
He will return to racing at the GP Ouest Plouay one-day race on August 27 and then ride the Tour of Britain (September 3-10) before the world championships in Norway. He hopes to ride both the team time trial with Team Sky and then lead the Polish team as he targets a second rainbow jersey.
"Racing in Britain always brings back memories of the massive crowds at the 2012 Olympics and the start of the 2014 Tour de France in Yorkshire. The Tour of Britain is always the same. It's a race that suits me and I was happy to finish second in 2014. We will see how it goes this year - I will have a big motivation to be in good shape as it's just one week before the world championships," he said.
"I hope to do the world team time trial championship, and then the world championship road race, before finishing my season at Il Lombardia."