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Michal Kwiatkowski: It’s been the worst season ever

Polish Michal Kwiatkowski of Ineos Grenadiers pictured at the start of the third stage of the Criterium du Dauphine cycling race 169km between SaintPaulien and ChastreixSancy France Tuesday 07 June 2022 BELGA PHOTO DAVID STOCKMAN Photo by DAVID STOCKMAN BELGA MAG Belga via AFP Photo by DAVID STOCKMANBELGA MAGAFP via Getty Images
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Michal Kwiatkowski has been a peripheral figure at top races this season. The experienced Pole was just happy to be racing at the Tour of Britain with Ineos Grenadiers after a year to forget.

“It’s been the worst season ever. I’ve been struggling with sicknesses, injuries,” he told Cyclingnews before stage 5 of the Tour of Britain. “At the end of the day, I decided just to race and finish the season with some race days because I miss that a lot,” he said.

A chest and throat infection forced him to abandon the Volta a Catalunya in March. He also quit the Critérium du Dauphiné with knee pain and was ruled out of the Tour de France with a semitendinosus muscle tear. The 32-year-old also crashed in mid-July in training, suffering concussion and concerted time off the bike.

“COVID-19, flu, hamstring injury, concussion… it all came after a period of preparation just before I was ready to win races. It was tough not only physically, but also mentally. That’s why I’m so happy to just be at the race. Even if my condition is bad, I’m still enjoying being here with the boys.”

Kwiatkowski has only had 33 race days this season. Despite his many problems, he still outsprinted Benoît Cosnefroy for victory at the Amstel Gold Race, his only win of the season. “That cost me so much, just to prepare for the Classics,” he said. “I know how I struggled, and my family struggled, with sicknesses and different things, then after that period, the injury and crash came. It was just a terrible experience. Even though I won Amstel, it was tough.”

Nevertheless, his contract extension with Ineos Grenadiers until 2025 was announced last month. After a difficult time, Kwiatkowski has been encouraged by the support of those close to him. “The team, the family and everyone. It’s just good to have people around you,” he said. “They always believe in you. Let’s hope I can turn everything back in 2023.”

Injury problems are temporary, but his class is permanent. Kwiatkowski has won Milan-Sanremo, Tirreno-Adriatico and two editions of Strade Bianche in his illustrious career, not to mention the 2014 World Championships.

The Pole won’t be at this year’s race in Australia. “I’m not ready to perform at the Worlds, so I will skip that. Instead hopefully I can race Croatia [CRO Race 2022], Paris-Bourges and Paris-Tours. If I’m not going to the Worlds, I can have more race days and just enjoy racing.”

Meanwhile, talking about the Ineos Grenadiers aggressive tactics on the Tour of Britain stage 4, he commented: “We were trying to make the race hard from kilometre zero and I think we achieved that. Obviously, there’s still a few stages to go and we will try to surprise. Obviously, [leader] Gonzalo Serrano is super strong and we need to try to find a way to beat him.”

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