Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) remains within touching distance of overall victory at the Tour de Romandie, heading into Friday’s queen stage.
The Polish rider has been at the top of the general classification since winning the prologue, but lost his leader’s jersey yesterday, after Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEDGE) won his second stage. Kwiatkowski is up against a strong field in Switzerland, including defending champion Chris Froome (Sky).
Froome - who currently sits 14 seconds behind Kwiatkowski in ninth place - has been left impressed by the 23-year-old and believes that he will be a tough competitor come July and the Tour de France. “He can target a top 5,” Froome told L’Équipe.
“He showed that when he had a jersey, it was hard to take him. Repeated efforts over three weeks can pose a problem, but he is only very young. I have a lot of respect for him.”
Kwiatkowski finished 11th in last year’s Tour de France. He looked to be on for a top 10 finish but suffered in the final week. However, Kwiatkowski has come of age this year with victories at the Volta ao Algarve and Strade Bianche. Last week, he took an impressive podium finish at Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The 23-year-old is also a potential contender for the young rider’s competition at the Tour de France too.
Froome’s directeur sportif Nicolas Portal believes that Kwiatkowski is one to watch this July. “He is really complete (as a rider). He can climb, he rides very strong and he even has a bit of speed,” he explained. “If Omega decided to build his team around Cav, he's so strong and intelligent and he can fend for himself, using the work of others. In any case, we will have to monitor him.”