Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) admitted to being a bit disappointed with her ninth place at the Tour of Flanders at the weekend, but the Polish rider leaves Belgium with confidence ahead of her targeted Ardennes Classics. Niewiadoma was one of the main protagonists in the final 30 kilometres, but lost out in the final sprint when she got boxed in towards the barriers. She believes that her form is where it needs to be.
"For sure, I'm happy with my shape. I think that all my preparations so far are going in the right way," Niewiadoma told Cyclingnews after the finish in Oudenaarde. "I feel that I'm getting stronger and the Ardennes are definitely my favourite races so I feel more comfortable being there. Every race is a lesson for us, so I will keep in mind what happened today heading towards the Ardennes Classics."
Niewiadoma's star has been ascending over the past few years, but it was the Ardennes week in 2017 that she firmly put her name on the map, finishing third in all three races. This season, with the backing of her new Canyon-SRAM squad, she has taken a step forward. She took her third consecutive runner-up spot at Strade Bianche – behind Flanders winner Anna van der Breggen – before going on to take her second-ever WorldTour success at the Trofeo Alfredo Binda.
"I'm pretty confident," she said of her form for the hilly Classics. "I hope that everything will go well and that I won't get any small sicknesses, or whatever, because there are still two weeks to go. I feel comfortable and we have a strong team so it gives me more confidence that I had before. We are having fun when we are racing together and when you have fun you’re happy and you can form really well."
Nevertheless, the Tour of Flanders left Niewiadoma with a sense that she could have gotten more out of it. Though she was still trying to process the disappointment and where exactly it had broken down, the 23-year-old admitted that her delayed response to Van der Breggen’s attack was a large contributing factor in the Boels Dolmans rider getting so far up the road.
"I first went after the Kruisberg and then she followed my attack. Somehow, I thought that the other girls would be able to cover it, because I was on the edge after making the first attack," explained Niewiadoma. "I don’t know. I should have reacted immediately. I saw that Ellen had attacked and I was on her wheel hoping that she could close the gap but that moment of hesitation cost us a chance at victory.
"I knew that I had a few of my riders behind me so I thought that a few groups would come together and, for sure, working together we should be able to close that gap, especially as it was almost 30 kilometres to go and there were big, wide roads with a lot of headwind. I thought that being alone is not the ideal situation so I thought we could work together. We went pretty deep on the Kwaremont but the gap was still growing. She was just flying today."
After her win at Binda last month, Niewiadoma has got a taste for winning one-day races, but if she wants to do it again in a couple of weeks then she will have to topple Van der Breggen, who while also being on flying form at the moment, won Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège last year.
"She's a challenge for us, but she won Strade and then we won Binda, she won here so hopefully we will win there," laughed Niewiadoma.