Team Sky's Michal Kwiatkowski has opted to take a slower start to the 2019 season with an aim at being at his best for the Ardennes Classics. The 2017 Milan-San Remo winner would like to add another Monument to his palmarès at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
Kwiatkowski came into the 2018 season a bit too hot, winning the Volta ao Algarve in February and following that with the overall victory in Tirreno-Adriatico. When the Ardennes Classics rolled around, the former world champion said he was not "dancing on the pedals as I'd like to".
This year, Kwiatkowski will skip the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, where he started the past two seasons, and take on his first race of the season at the UAE Tour at the end of February.
"My main goal for the first part of the season is to be in the best shape possible for the Ardennes," Kwiatkowski said in an interview on TeamSky.com.
"Let's hope I can be up there amongst the best riders to win Liège-Bastogne-Liège. I've slightly changed my approach to the season and I will start later, at the UAE Tour, then probably Paris-Nice and Pais Vasco so not as much racing."
Kwiatkowski has no regrets about his 2018 season, saying it was amazing. After winning Tirreno-Adriatico, he was a hot favourite for Milan-San Remo, but found himself heavily marked when Vincenzo Nibali launched his winning attack and came home disappointed.
After winning stages of the Critérium du Dauphiné and winning his national road race championship, Kwiatkowski supported Geraint Thomas in winning the Tour de France before going straight to the Tour of Poland and taking his home race's victory.
"Winning stage races was not my main goal, but it was great to get such great results and get the first wins for Team Sky at Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour of Poland - I was very proud.
"To win a stage, then win another stage in the leader's jersey was an amazing experience and I think the people in Poland really enjoyed it. It's good to finally have it on my palmarès.
"It was also good to go for the GC at the Vuelta and aim for stages. It was my second Grand Tour of the season and it was not an easy challenge but I was up for it. I tried and I did my best and I had the leader's jersey for a couple of days."
But the heavy schedule had its downside when it came to the end of the season.
"It was really difficult to stay in top shape," Kwiatkowski said. "It was a big challenge for me to stay at a high level but that experience will stay with me until the end of my career and I can use it in the future."
This year he hopes the slower start will leave him with more left to peak for Il Lombardia and a Worlds course that could suit him well.
"I hope to be in the best shape possible for the Tour de France and in the last part of the season, I would like to do some Classics for a change. I might go to Canada and I'd like to be in the best shape possible for Il Lombardia and the World Championships in Yorkshire," Kwiatkowski said.
"Looking at the World Championship course, which is nearly 300km, I would like to be in the best shape to compete with the best riders in the world.
"I know it's going to be a difficult race and the weather at that time of year in that part of England can play a big role.
"One of the possibilities would be to race the Tour de Yorkshire to prepare, but coming so soon after the Ardennes – and with me wanting to be fresh for the Tour de France – it depends how the season goes to whether it fits in around my spring programme."