Polish champion Michal Kwiatkowski has scarcely been off the podium in the 2014 season, but is under no pressure from his Omega Pharma-Quickstep team to perform at the upcoming Critérium du Dauphiné. The 24-year-old returns to competition on Sunday after a month-long break to begin his build up to the Tour de France.
Kwiatkowski began the season with a win in the Mallorca Challenge and won the overall Volta ao Algarve in February before impressing with a solo victory in Strade Bianche over Peter Sagan. He wore the leader's jersey for two days in Tirreno-Adriatico, was second overall in Pais Vasco, was third in Flèche Wallonne and Liège - Bastogne - Liège and won the prologue in the Tour de Romandie before his team pulled him back to rest him up for July.
"This is a good test to see where he stands," sports director Rolf Aldag said of Kwiatkowski's goals for the Critérium du Dauphiné. "We will give him the freedom to prepare for the Tour after a great first part of the season. The Tour is his biggest goal for the summer, so we will see what he can do without any pressure for the GC at this race."
The team will count on riders like Jan Bakelants, Gianni Meersman and Zdenek Stybar to fight for stage wins on the medium mountain stages or breakaways.
"We can also look to riders like Julian Alaphilippe and Carlos Verona. Alaphilippe is French, so it will be good experience for him to ride in his home country," Aldag said. "We also have Kevin De Weert and Michal Golas. Golas returns to racing after the fracture of his scaphoid during Liège - Bastogne - Liège. He's recovered and ready to return to competition. We have a competitive team and are ready to go for results day-by-day."
Omega Pharma-Quickstep for the Critérium du Dauphiné: Julian Alaphilippe, Jan Bakelants, Kevin De Weert, Michal Golas, Michal Kwiatkowski, Gianni Meersman, Zdenek Stybar, and Carlos Verona