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Michal Kwiatkowski rides away to third
Finding rhythm for the Ardennes
Michal Kwiatkowski put in another good performance for his Omega Pharma - QuickStep team during stage one of the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco to finish third in a elite group behind Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and stage winner Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo).
With Valverde and Contador accelerating away from the front group on the final Category 2 climb of the day no one else could bridge across to the duo, although Kwiatkowski managed to spring from the chasers to gain third place on the stage to limit his losses to 34 seconds.
"I am happy because it's important to have a good feeling in a race after a period of training," Kwiatkowski said. "After Milan-San Remo I trained specifically in Calpe."
While Kwiatkowski admitted he didn't have the legs to go with the two grand tour winners, nevertheless, he was satisfied with the day's efforts.
"The attack of Contador was impressive. I thought it was better to try and keep my rhythm and not to try and follow them," Kwiatkowski said on his team's website.
"It might have used too much energy to try. At a certain moment I thought it would maybe be possible to catch them in the downhill. But even from the top they went super fast. It was impossible for us to come back. In any case I am happy about my performance."
The 23-year-old was victorious earlier in the season claiming the overall of the Volta ao Algarve which he followed up with an impressive victory at Strade Bianche. Kwiatkowski's next goal is the Ardennes and he will enter Amstel Gold Race and La Flèche Wallonne knowing he can pull off a podium place or a win. Last year Kwiatkowski was fourth at Amstel, fifth at Flèche and finished off the week with 92nd at Liège - Bastogne - Liège having already won a legion of new fans.
"Of course I am happy about this race but here at Pais Vasco my goal is to get into the rhythm to try and be competitive for the Ardennes classics."