Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) has been quick to deny his favourite status for the World Championships later this month. The Polish rider’s name has come up regularly in lists of potential winners in Ponferrada, but he just wants to make it to the end.
“Favourite, you know that’s a big word,” said Kwiatkowski. “Last year I was in good form before the World Championships, but during the Worlds I didn’t feel so great. Some put me as one of the favourites, but I couldn’t even finish the race. I will skip the time trial and that is a different preparation for the road race. I will continue like that, and not worry about my condition.”
Kwiatkowski has been preparing for the Worlds at the Tour of Britain. The 24-year-old wore the yellow jersey for two days, before handing it over to Alex Dowsett (Movistar) on stage six. Dowsett lost the jersey the following day, but Kwiatkowski is still 19 seconds off the new leader Dylan van Baarle (Garmin-Sharp). He is expected to take back the yellow jersey in the penultimate stage time trial.
This year has been a bumper one for Kwiatkowski, where he broke through at the Ardennes Classics. The hectic, but successful, start to the season took its toll and he suffered a dip ahead of the Tour de France. The Tour of Britain has seen Kwiatkowski return to the form he held earlier in the year, but he’s still cautious about his prospects.
“I’m not confident, but I will have to see myself up there fighting for the result. What can I say? It’s a classic, I’ve made big steps forward in the classics so why not be up there. I like classics so for sure I will try to do something.”
In the history of the World Championships, Poland has only ever won one medal - Zbigniew Spruch won silver in Plouay in 2000. After the success of Kwiatkowski and his compatriot Rafal Majka, who won two stages of the Tour de France and the mountains classification, Poland go to the championships with a full roster of riders. Professional cycling in the country has never been this well off.
“It’s getting bigger and bigger, and after what Rafal Majka did on the Tour and now Przemyslaw Niemiec at the Vuelta and other riders too, we are always motivated to be the best,” said Kwiatkowski. “We’re going to have nine riders. Polish cycling is getting better and better and I believe that I can represent Polish cycling very well.”