After returning home to Poland to celebrate his World Championships victory during the week, Michal Kwiatkowski will line up in the rainbow jersey for the first time on Sunday when he participates in the Tour of Lombardy.
It is eight years since a world champion last triumphed in Lombardy, when Paolo Bettini paid a stirring tribute to his late brother Sauro in 2006. At that point, there was a three-week gap between the Worlds and Lombardy – the last man to win both races with a one-week turnaround was Oscar Camenzind in 1998.
Though Kwiatkowski has failed to complete the Tour of Lombardy in two attempts, the multi-talented Pole has the attributes to shine in the race, which takes place on a revamped course with a new finale in Bergamo this year. The Omega Pharma-QuickStep man is concerned that he may not be recovered from the physical and emotional effects of the Worlds, however.
“I've never been able to finish it. I got sick last year the night before the start. So with this jersey, I at least have to do better than last year,” Kwiatkowski said. “To me it's beautiful to show my jersey for the first time in a monument. Let's see what I can do considering all the great emotions I've had in the last days. Of course I will try to do my best to honour the race and the jersey."
Kwiatkowski, who admitted that he is “still in shock, even now” will lead a solid Omega Pharma-QuickStep team that also includes Rigoberto Uran, Wout Poels and his fellow countryman Michal Golas.
Kwiatkowski’s new rainbow jersey is yet to be revealed, although kit manufacturer Vermarc has suggested that, like his teammate Mark Cavendish, the Pole will couple the famous jersey with his regular black team shorts rather than wearing all white like so many recent world champions.
“We have to take the UCI’s quite strict rules into consideration so there isn’t really the possibility of creating a very personalised design,” Vermac representative and former professional Olivier Kaisen told RTBF. “The spaces for sponsors are in specific places and are reduced in size. But we also have to respect the desire of the sponsors who want to appear on the kit, so Kwiatkowski should be using the team’s existing shorts.”