Last year’s world champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) seemed on course for at least a podium result in the Tour of Flanders on Sunday. That was until he ran out of gas on the final climbs, fading back from the lead group with World champion and eventual winner Peter Sagan (Tinkoff). Kwiatkowski went on to finish on a distant 27th position.
At the finish in Oudenaarde the 25-year-old Polish rider was hugely disappointed. Nevertheless, he’s stint at the Flemish one-day races offered him a win at the E3 Harelbeke and the knowledge that one day he can reach out to the victory in the Ronde. From here Kwiatkowski switches focus to the Ardennes classics, which were always his main goal for this Spring.
“I’m disappointed. Flanders is one of the most beautiful races to win. For sure, in the future I’ll try to be back on this course. Now I’m focused on the Ardennes. That was the main goal for the first part of the season. I think I can say that I’m on the schedule for that, even with bad legs today,” Kwiatkowski said.
The new signing from Team Sky is a rider who’s able to go well in stage races, having already achieved several podium spots in week-long events. He also excels in one-day races as he showed at the 2014 World championships in Ponferrada. He also managed a third place in Liège-Bastogne-Liège that year.
At 35 kilometres from the finish Kwiatkowski placed an attack. It happened in the same way he managed to become world champion and in the same way he created the winning breakaway move in Harelbeke. This time Sagan was quick to react and also Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo) bridged across.
“Being in this move was really good," Kwiatkowski said. "We had everything under control. First we had Ian [Stannard] up front and then G [Geraint Thomas] and also Luke [Rowe] in this group. I got in front with Peter who went on to win the race and also Sep."
It was a smart move and it put a lot of contenders for the victory in major trouble. In fact it turned out to be the decisive attack although Kwiatkowski knew things weren’t going his way.
“I no longer felt 100 per cent on the Taaienberg where Sagan and Cancellara accelerated. I was unable to hold their wheel. I decided to go in the move before the Kwaremont and Paterberg. Fabian would be the strongest on the Kwaremont. We learned from previous editions that he could go there on his own. It was a smart move.”
Once up the road the Oude Kwaremont quickly came up and halfway up the long cobbled climb Kwiatkowski faded back.
“I was done. I was unable to hold Peter’s wheel and later on Cancellara’s wheel. I couldn’t do anything more today than this. It was the maximum with the legs I had today. It’s disappointing that it wasn’t my day. We tried to go for the win with Team Sky. G, Luke, me and Ian, we were all trying to win this race. The others were just stronger. That’s sport.”
Next up for Kwiatkowski is the Amstel Gold Race in two weeks time and one week later Liège-Bastogne-Liège.