The new-look race calendar announced by the UCI and the major stakeholders in the sport sees all three Grand Tours and the Monuments crammed into 71 days of none-stop and overlapping racing. For some athletes, the new schedule represents a daunting prospect but for Team Ineos all-rounder Michał Kwiatkowski the post-COVID-19 calendar could be a huge opportunity to shine.
The former world champion, who can race over the cobbles, through the Ardennes and into the high mountains at the Tour de France is itching to get back in the saddle, and as he explained to Cyclingnews, he needs to be ready from the gun.
"Right now it's hard to judge the condition because we still have about two months until racing and there's still plenty of time to build up the condition for the first race. I'm just focusing on the basics and from the first of August until the end of October I need to be presenting good form," he told Cyclingnews from his home in the south of France.
"Looking at the overall situation with the new calendar, maybe it's a dream opportunity for me. I can build up one block of form for the classics – which is my main goal – for the post-COVID season and I can also build-up for the Tour at the same time.
"I can hold that for three months because when you think about it I'm normally racing hard for longer than that. The main goal is to be ready from the gun and August 1. I need to be ready to race, ready to win from then until the end of October and that's a great opportunity."
Complete race plans have yet to be finalised, and the picture could change considerably if races are postponed again, but as things stand Kwiatkowski will race Strade Bianche on August 1. Next up would be Milan-San Remo the weekend after, before preparing for the Tour de France. He'll then hope to leave the end of the Tour with enough form for the final Classics of the season in late Autumn.
"I'll do the Tour. I think that it fits with the Classics season for me," he said. "I have a great experience, not from every year, but I know that if I can make things right then I can exit a Tour with even better shape than when I started it."
Until then the former Milan-San Remo and Amstel Gold Race winner can entertain himself with training and the Ineos e-races his team has set up. This weekend sees the squad including Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas, Rohan Dennis, and Kwiatkowski split into several mini-squads and compete against each other on Zwift.
In recent months, Dennis has proved to be the strongest e-racer on the team but he will be a marked man on Saturday as the team race over an online version of the Yorkshire Worlds course. Kwiatkowski is a fan of what e-racing can provide for athletes and their fans and upped the ante as he looked to put the pressure on Dennis.
"Looking at the different sports and disciplines, the e-race platform gives cycling an opportunity to put on a show even when we're locked at home. That gives us another chance to show that we can stay connected with our fans and to spread the message that we're still going to entertain," he said.
"It's hard to judge how I'll go. I think that I surprised myself with a top-three in the last one. It was a horrible effort, I have to say. The circuit in Yorkshire has some kicks and I know that Zwift is one of the platforms where you can use tactics more. I'm quite scared that it's going to be hard to control.
"I can't say who will do what but we have our teams and we have our small Whatsapp groups so we've talked about what we're going to do. I'm just afraid that Rohan Dennis will just go from the gun and that he'll just continue until the end. If we can stay on his wheel then he's trouble."
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