With just over a week until the UCI Road World Championships in Ponferrada, Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) showed that he is right on track after taking second on the Queen stage of the Tour of Britain. The Polish rider attacked inside the final kilometre to claim second on the summit finish on the Tumble.
"I am happy. I had a break after the Tour and I was really motivated for September. I have shown that I am in good condition," he said at the finish. "In the first two stages I didn’t feel too well but today from the start, with the whole team riding for you, you have to finish well."
The Tour of Britain is Kwiatkowski’s second race, after the GP Ouest France-Plouay, since he completed the Tour de France in July. He was left thinking what could have been, however, when his rivals refused to help chase the escaped Edoardo Zardini (Bardiani-CSF) and Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo). They did eventually reel in Roche when the Irishman cracked, but Zardini held on to take victory.
"I was trying to go forward and escape, but everybody reacted to my move," he explained. "When Nicolas Roche went and the guy from Bardiani and nobody really wanted to chase them. Actually, we played a few games in the last two or three kilometres."
Kwiatkowski’s late dig off the front to take second place, showed that his rivals were right in not wanting to help him. He now sits 13 seconds behind Zardini, who holds the leader’s yellow jersey.
Sunday’s finale in London has been split into two stages, with a sprint stage to close things, but it is the time trial in the morning is expected to decide the general classification. Defending champion and Olympic time trial champion Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) is the hot favourite for victory.
When asked if he was afraid of Wiggins in the time trial, Kwiatkowski responded with a wry smile, before saying. "Everybody is afraid. He’s on another level, and to be competing with him is just a great opportunity to show myself."
Kwiatkowski has 11 seconds over Wiggins in the general classification, a margin that could easily disappear over the short race against the clock. While there are time bonuses available at the intermediate sprints, the Polish rider admits that it will be hard to give himself a bigger cushion over the Team Sky rider.
"This race is tricky, with the small roads and all the time up and down you have to always concentrate. Of course the most important stage is the time trial. You can see that there are not so many differences in the GC riders, so there won’t be too many changes until the last day."