When it comes to Michal Kwiatkowski targeting Grand Tours and stage races the question appears to have always been a matter of 'when rather than if' but the Team Sky all-rounder remains firmly focused on achieving his one-day ambitions for the time being.
The Polish rider has forged a career as one of the most multi-talented riders in the current peloton, with an eclectic skill set enabling him to win across a number of formats. There are few riders who can go toe-to-toe with Peter Sagan one week, and then ride at the head of affairs in the mountains the next.
The all-rounder won both summit finish stages at the Volta ao Algarve, and carried away the overall crown after a daring raid on the final stage. Heading into the spring classics, he once more looks like a force to reckoned with.
"Liege-Bastogne-Liege is a big target but I'm thinking that I'm in good shape now to try and fight for Strade Bianche and Milan-San Remo," he told Cyclingnews on the morning of the final stage in Algarve.
In terms of this season's Grand Tours, Kwiatkowski will race the Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espana. Having never competed in two three-week races in the same season he is entering new territory. However, his role in both races is still somewhat uncertain. Chris Froome's fate in relation to his salbutamol case has not yet been reached, and although Geraint Thomas, Wout Poels and Sergio Henao could all claim to be legitimate 'plan Bs' the same case could be put forward for Kwiatkowski. That said, the former world champion is shying away from any pressure in major stage races. At the Volta ao Algarve, however, he let his legs do the talking.
"I'll do the Tour and the Vuelta. I don't think I'll be a leader for the Vuelta. There's no pressure and Geraint is going to be a leader for sure, I think. For me, it's about discovery because I've never done two Grand Tours in one season before. It's going to be difficult but I'd love to be in good shape after the Tour. It's also a big possibility that the Vuelta is going to be the best preparation for the World Championships," he said.
In terms of the rest of his race programme, Kwiatkowski will remain focused on one-day races. He will mix in a cluster of cobbled races before targeting the Ardennes. However, as he showed in Algarve, if there is an opportunity at a stage race, he will take it.
"There are no big changes other than riding Flanders and riding the Vuelta this year. I still have a lot of things to achieve in the first part of the season with the Classics. That's the main objective but I don't forget about my training on a time trial bike and climbing abilities. These will help me in stage races in the future but I know that when riding for such a team you have to deserve it, to ride as a leader."
"There's so much in cycling for me to achieve and I don't want to make any huge changes in my race programme right now because I don't want to make mistakes, when I think about racing Liege, for example," he added.
"Aiming for stage races mean that you need to change your approach for the season and that's not what I want. I still need to find my way in the race programme that I have right now. It's still difficult to be in the best shape for the right moment. For me, it's the Ardennes, Tour and the Worlds. Last year, I wasn't there in the World Championships."
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