La Flèche Wallonne: Kwiatkowski Earns First Classics Podium Placing of Career
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Wednesday 23 April 2014 - 15:40

Young Polish Champion Michal Kwiatkowski continues to take important steps in his career development with Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team.

Kwiatkowski finished 3rd at 199km La Flèche Wallonne. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) went over the top of Kwiatkowski in the final meters of the Mur de Huy to win the race. Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp) was 2nd.

Kwiatkowski entered the final ascent of the Mur de Huy in superb position. Jeremy Roy (FDJ.fr) attacked before that and had a small gap, but he was reeled in with about 2.7km to go. OPQS had multiple riders near the front in anticipation of the final climb, including Wout Poels who eventually finished 12th.

Kwiatkowski, in one of the steepest sections of the final climb that can reach ramps of 26 percent, chose his moment to slightly accelerate his tempo on the front. He held his power as best he could, but Valverde was able to overtake before the finish line on the third and final time up the Mur de Huy.

Still, the 3rd place finish for Kwiatkowski was an important milestone. He has his first Classics podium of his career, and continues his consistency in some of the biggest races so far this year.

"I'm happy because Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, as a team, did a perfect race," Kwiatkowski said. "My teammates have been working hard for me and I have to thank them. I actually didn't make any mistakes on the final climb. I think I did it smart on the Mur de Huy. I started in front, on the bottom. Then I took my own speed, which was much better than last year because I lost a few positions on the two corners at about 450 meters to go. Today, I took my own speed and then sped up before the final. This final is also about tactics and I think I did that part correctly. But I just didn't have enough legs to just react to Valverde and Dan Martin. I'm actually happy considering this, I am getting better step-by-step. For sure I will start at Liege-Bastogne-Liege. In the past I didn't make any big results. I hope, with the way I have prepared, I can be in good form for that race as well. I think the Ardennes Classics was the first really big goal for the first part of the season. I'm excited about what I did at Amstel and what I did today, and think I can carry my good legs to the last of the three races this week. I'm satisfied I'm making improvements. I'm 23, I hope I can keep improving until I'm 30 or something. I'm trying to improve day-by-day."

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OPQS to La Flèche Wallonne
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Tuesday 22 April 2014 - 15:59

Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team has announced the selection that will participate in La Flèche Wallonne, The 199 kilometer race includes 11 climbs, including three ascents of the Mur de Huy (9.3% average gradient, maximum ramp 17 percent) with the last being the final of the race.

"There is a change in the parcours where the race will start from Bastogne," Sport Director Davide Bramati said. "So, there will be a first part that is flat, and then you enter the final part with the 11 climbs. On the Mur de Huy, the second time we climb it could be a 'medial' place to attack as it is at about 25km left to go in the race. We will have to stay focused there and as for sure someone might try and take action well before the final trip up the Mur de Huy. As for our selection, we once again have a good team at the start. We changed a few elements if you compare it to Amstel where we have more climbers. Our road captain is Michal Kwiatkowski as he showed his condition with his top 5 finish at Amstel Gold Race. He was also 5th at this race in 2013. We will try to do something good again this year and be there for the finale in the second of the three Ardennes Classics."

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InCycle TV Amstel Gold Race 2014 Highlights
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Sunday 20 April 2014 - 17:49

inCycle TV, featured on Cyclingnews, recently posted a highlight video of Amstel Gold Race on Sunday

Amstel Gold Race: Kwiatkowski 5th in Race Decided on the Cauberg
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Sunday 20 April 2014 - 16:59

Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Michal Kwiatkowski finished 5th at 251.4km Amstel Gold Race on Sunday. The race came down to the final ascent of the Cauberg, with 3 kilometers to go.

Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team) launced an acceleration no one could match, and he went on to win solo. Kwiatkowski was in good position heading into the climb after being led there by teammate Michal Golas, even marking accelerations from the beginning. He marked an attack of Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEDGE) just before Gilbert went up the road.

Kwiatkowski did his best to chase with a small group including Gerrans, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team), and Jelle Vanendert (Lotto-Belisol), but they were unable to close the gap. Vanendert was 2nd, Gerrans was 3rd, and Valverde 4th.

Zdenek Stybar was also a protagonist for OPQS, going with an attack of Thomas Voeckler (Team Europcar) with 39km to go. A select group then formed as they pursued the original breakaway. However, most of those riders were absorbed by the peloton except for Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team) and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana). Those riders caught two left in the lead with about 10km left in the race, but those riders were all neutralized with 7km to go.

OPQS was also a team that helped chase down several breakaways.

Tony Martin suffered a crash, without serious consequences, after being last of the line in a wide road that suddenly narrowed. He touched wheels with Kwiatkowski and fell. He was able to keep riding quickly after suffering a mechanical, which required a new bike.

Wout Poels had a bike change on the Bemelerberg with about 8km to go in the race. That, and a bit of a bad day on the bike, put him out of contention for the final.

“There is something so good about this Cauberg,” Kwiatkowski said. “I think it’s something I need to discover. I think I would have been a little bit better further back in the group, maybe following a guy like Gilbert. He has so much experience. I think it would be a bit easier. I didn’t catch an attack from Samuel Sanchez (BMC Racing Team) right away early on the climb. I was a little bit back. That surprised me, but I had just started behind my teammate Michal Golas on the Cauberg. I thought ‘why do I have to wait,’ as I thought after a couple of seconds later we’d be on the top. But on the bike, it’s a long way to the top. I went too early actually and I paid for it. But, I’m happy.”

“I had so much support from my teammates,” Kwiatkowski continued. “I have done this race twice now, and I have performed recon of the parcours. I'm learning year-by-year. I stayed in the race all day in the front, but maybe from this I learned I need to stay a little more in the back and realize when to use my energy. But the support of my teammates was great today regardless of my choice of position. Golas was really impressive today. He was able to chase down a breakaway, then he was still with me on to the bottom of the Cauberg. So I’m happy with what they did for me. I finished 5th and while I didn’t improve on last year’s 4th place, I made it a little bit better start. Because I could follow guys on the Cauberg and I couldn’t last year. I had maybe a little bit better of a sprint, but this year I took a different way. I did better but in the end I just couldn’t follow Gilbert. There is so much to learn and I for Fleche Wallone, I think this makes me confident. After Pais Vasco I took a different way to prepare for the Ardennes Classics. I’m happy my legs are OK and there are a few days of recovery. If you have good legs, you can be there. I showed today they are there. I’m looking forward to the next two races.” 

“Actually I think I did a good race,” Jan Bakelants said. “In the second to last climb I helped to close the gap on the breakaway. It cost me some energy and at the foot of the Cauberg I wasn't well placed. In any case I'm in good condition and on Wednesday I will be there again to try to do my best. "

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Amstel Gold Race: Introducing Wout Poels
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Sunday 20 April 2014 - 14:13

Wout Poels won a stage of Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco recently, and is competing in Amstel Gold Race. Get to know the Dutch rider who joined Omega Pharma - Quick - Step Cycling Team in 2014, and learn his thoughts about the race at home that opens the Ardennes Classics!

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