Michal Kwiatkowski’s debut season with Team Sky has been one of two very distinct acts. As he approaches the curtain call of 2016, Kwiatkowski is looking to get things back on track at the Rio Olympic Games.
Kwiatkowski is in Brazil as part of a four-man Polish squad hoping to strike gold in Saturday’s road race. The former world champion’s season got off to strong start with success coming at E3 Harelbeke in March. However, it proved not to be a sign of things to come as he struggled in the Ardennes before two consecutive abandons at the Tour de Romandie and the Criterium du Dauphine.
"There have been some bad moments this season but that is sport and sometimes I don’t have any influence on my health," said Kwiatkowski. "I have some great memories from the first part of the season and some bad. It’s a pity that I couldn’t go with the plans I had on paper but it’s behind me and now I’m looking forwards so that’s important."
The bad luck was not behind Kwiatkowski after the Dauphine and a crash at his home race, the Tour of Poland, meant he was unable to test his legs on the only mountain stage. He avoided injury, however, and he remains positive about his form heading into the road race. "I prepared really well to do a great race in Rio but my plans this season haven’t gone as I wanted, so we will see. I will give my best for sure," he said.
"I did a recon last year, it was a very hard race but in an Olympic race it is always very difficult to predict what will happen. I think together with Rafal Majka, Michal Golas and Maciej Bodnar I think that we can do a great race for Polish cycling."
Poland do not have a defined leader for the Olympics, with Kwiatkowski and Majka both viable options for the team. In contrast to Kwiatkowski, Majka has enjoyed a fruitful summer of racing, winning the king of the mountains classification at the Tour de France. Majka is the stronger climber but Kwiatkowski possesses a better sprint kick should it be required. Kwiatkowski says that they will have to play it by ear on the day.
"For sure we are going to go for the strongest guy," he said. "I think Rafal Majka is feeling really well after the Tour and he’s capable of doing a great result there, for sure we will go for the best result."
What comes after Rio is not yet known and may depend on his performance on Saturday. After missing selection in the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France, Kwiatkowski has his eyes on the Vuelta a Espana, a race his teammate Chris Froome has already signalled his intentions to ride.
"I will think about doing the Vuelta a Espana," said Kwiatkowski. "It would be wonderful to do a Grand Tour this year and I’ve never done the Vuelta so let’s hope my health and shape will be good enough to go there."
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