Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) aimed high but lost everything in the third and final Vosges mountain stage of the 2014 Tour de France from Mulhouse to La Planche des Belles Filles on Monday. The Polish rider was unable to profit from teammate Tony Martin's efforts in a long breakaway move in which he virtually took over the yellow jersey. Kwiatkowski lost his white jersey of best young rider to Romain Bardet (AG2R) and tumbled to 13th overall at 4:39 from maillot jaune Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).
Martin seemingly had recovered well from his efforts from the day before, possibly tanking energy from Germany's World Cup football victory. While disaster struck Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) in the peloton, Martin put himself in front of Kwiatkowski, closed the gap to the leaders and then led the lead group for miles and miles over the Vosges climbs while receiving no support from his breakaway companions.
At the Col des Chevrères, the penultimate climb of the day, Martin ended his impressive work for Kwiatkowski and the Polish rider accelerated up the Vosges mountain with only Joaquin Rodriguez marking his move. A little later, Kwiatkowski's high aspirations fell apart when he was dropped by Rodriguez and several others, including race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) who had attacked from the peloton.
"I'm very thankful to Tony. It's just incredible. I just sat on his wheel and he pulled the whole day. I never saw something like that before. Because of him I thought I could win the stage and maybe take even yellow. In the end, I just didn't have the legs so I'm really disappointed I could not finish his work," Kwiatkowski said after finally making it over the La Planche des Belles Filles climb. The young Polish rider needed a long time to recover and was clearly devastated that he was unable to build on Martin's efforts.
At the finish line in La Planche des Belles Filles, Kwiatkowski rolled across in 24th position at 2:13 behind winner Nibali. Kwiatkowski lost his white jersey to Romain Bardet (AG2R) and is now placed in 13th overall at 4:39 behind maillot jaune Nibali.
Kwiatkowski could not put a reason behind his showing.
"The penultimate climb was really steep, and I knew the Nibali group was coming back. I was trying to go full gas until the end but just had no legs. The last climb I could not even ride at my own speed. Normally if I ride my own pace, I go pretty quickly and I can hold it [sighs]. After racing for 10 days in a row, everybody will enjoy the rest day," Kwiatkowski said.
After the rest day in Besançon, the city of time, the Tour de France peloton will kick off the second part of the Grande Boucle with a ride from Besançon to Oyonnax.