Michal Kwiatkowski won the Italian Classic Strade Bianche this past weekend, an important addition to the Polish Champion's palmares. After winning the race solo by counter attacking Peter Sagan in the final kilometer, Kwiato had much to say about the race, his victory, and what is next on his calendar in the blog entry below.
I'm still smiling about my victory. To be honest, I was told about the finale in Piazza del Campo (Siena) by my Polish teammate Michal Golas. So I knew already that it was beautiful and full of history. So, to arrive in a place like that with fans everywhere, in one of the most important moments of my career, I could appreciate it even more.
As for the race, it was far from easy to get to the final with Peter Sagan. In one of the longest sections at 80km to go or so I had a flat tire. I was in the front and it was a nervous moment. I was thinking that I really need to be in the front. But Peta stopped with me, gave me his wheel, Mark took me back to the front and I caught the front at 3km left in a 10km section. It was a nervous moment because about half of the peloton was already dropped and with a strong crosswind it was really dangerous. I could lose the race there. But I made it back thanks to my teammates. At 50km to go, the race got going and we had five guys in the front. We could play our cards. We started to pull as we had 22 guys in the front. But, Matteo attacked and it was a good move as we didn't have to work anymore. I was just waiting then for the move of a guy like Cancellara or Sagan. Then when we caught up to Matteo, on the little climb, Sagan attacked from the back so he had speed on the climb. I was waiting for the move of Cancellara more as he was in the front. I was just behind him when Sagan went. I went behind him and we worked all the way to the last kilometer. But, some people may not realize that Sagan and I have experiences in a good fight like this. We had several moments like this as juniors! To end up in this position with him may be a surprise for some, but certainly not for me. It's always nice to compete with him in the final, almost like a rivalry.
This season has been really successful, but also really busy. I have only seen my girlfriend a few times in three months. But it is part of the job and I am happy to see all the hard work I did this winter paying off so early in the season.
Now, at Tirreno-Adriatico, I want to do my best again. We just did the recon of the TTT in San Vincenzo. It's a fast race, and a nice parcours. We will see what happens. I finished 4th last year. We will have some good guys with Cavendish, Martin, Uran. We have a good lineup. We will see how it goes. The secret of this team is that we are always motivated. It keeps the morale high. As for me, my focus has been on the GC of races this year. Tirreno-Adriatico will be one of the best checks for how I am doing this year. Strade Bianche gave me great motivation and confidence, so I will see how I can do in a WorldTour stage race.
See you everybody!
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team has announced the selection that will participate in Tirreno-Adriatico, a 1019.1km stage race from March 12th through March 18th.
The first and last stages are both time trials. Stage 1 is a a flat, 18.5 team time trial, while Stage 7 is a flat, 9.1km individual time trial. Stages 2, 3, and 6 are undulating, but there are possibilities for a sprint. Stage 2 has a flat finale despite some climbs earlier in the stage. Stage 3 has a short and steep uphill finish, including a section with a max ramp of 11 percent. Stage 6 could also result in a group finish, as there are only a few small climbs and a flat final kilometer.
Stages 4 and 5 are both mountain stages, and could be crucial for determining the overall. Stage 4 includes an uphill finish from kilometer 230 to the 244th kilometer. A steep section, with a max ramp of 10%, is located near 1 kilometer to go. Stage 5 will likely be the most difficult. The final kilometer includes a max ramp of 30 percent between 1.4km to go and 800 meters, and also a max ramp of 12% within the final 250 meters. To have a chance in the finale, the riders will have to get over 13.1km Passo Lanciano at km 163.1 (max ramp 13%).
"Tirreno-Adriatico is important as it is a WorldTour race," Sport Director Davide Bramati said. "We have the points to think about, so we are really focused on this race to try and do well. We have to be honest, we were 4th last year with Michal Kwiatkowski and this year we are there again to try and do well. He did another step in his career within the last month of this year. However, in 2014 we can also count on Rigoberto Uran. He has already shown his abilities in these kind of races. The team is balanced. They are a good team. There will be a team time trial that will be important for not just the prestige of winning the stage, but also the general classification. So, it is important to do a good race immediately. Then we have several stages for the sprinters, so Mark Cavendish can count on his great leadout with Mark Renshaw and Alessandro Petacchi. He will be the team leader at that moment. Then there are the two stages that will be important for the GC. One is an uphill finish and another has a few passages with steep sections up to 30 percent that can make the difference. The final stage will again be a time trial that Tony Martin won last year. It is flat and not very technical, so it will favor the powerful riders. Tony is certainly one of the favorites again. But, it will be also important for the overall. It depends on the gap between the best GC riders and the time trial specialists at that point in the race. We are there to try and fight for a good position in the GC and go for at least one stage."more information
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Tom Boonen finished 24th in the 205km Stage 2 of Paris-Nice on Monday.
Moreno-Hofland (Belkin ProCycling) won the stage, with John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) 2nd and Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) 3rd. Bouhanni remains the race leader.
OPQS looks next to a 180km Stage 3 on Tuesday. The stage, from Toucy to Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours, includes two intermediate sprints and a Category 3 climb. The finale is slightly uphill.more information
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Guillaume Van Keirsbulck continued his strong season at the final stage of Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen on Sunday. The young Belgian bridged to an escape group that included two of his teammates, Andrew Fenn and Julian Alaphilippe, with less than 23km to go in the second stage.
Van Keirsbulck was just 14" back in the overall, in 6th place, going into the final stage. Sensing the possibility of a double victory, he attacked with about 5km to go. He was able to hold his advantage all the way to the finish line, sealing the 15th win (three disciplines) for OPQS by taking the stage. He finished 2nd in the GC to Gert Joeaar (Cofidis), who held onto his advantage for that victory.
Van Keirsbulck also won the jersey for best young rider.
"I am really happy to finally grab a victory," Van Keirsbulck said. "It was a very strange race because before entering into the local circuit I had a flat tire, about 5km before the circuit. Fortunately, Iljo Keisse helped me to come back. It took me a while but I was able to make it. Then in the local circuit there was a breakaway that included my teammates Fenn and Alaphilippe, and they had about 30 seconds of an advantage. At a certain moment I went solo to try to bridge. Fortunately, Fenn waited for me and we returned to the group together. We had three riders out of the breakaway with more or less 22km from the finish. In the last kilometers, at 5km to go, I decided to go alone. The last 500 meters I was really suffering because there was also a headwind. I was a bit scared that they would catch me, but I made it to the line. I was really happy I had also the time to celebrate. I am happy also because my condition is very good. The entire year I've been riding well. I had a good feeling this season even if I have a back problem I am trying to solve. It's nice that all the work I've done is paying off now. It's my first victory of the season, but also the first time I've won in two years. So, I really want to enjoy this victory. It's a pity that I lost the GC by a few seconds, but today let me enjoy my stage win in front of my public in West-Vlaanderen."more information
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team kept themselves near the front for much of the final kilometers of 162.5km Paris-Nice Stage 1. That turned out to be a smart move as the stage was filled with crashes, and some riders were caught in a second group that lost time.
Gianni Meersman finished 3rd in the bunch sprint finale, as Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) won and John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) was 2nd. However, because Meersman successfully went for intermediate sprints, the time he gained moved him up to 2nd in the general classification after the first stage. He is only 1" back from the race lead.
OPQS looks next to another flat stage, 205km Stage 2, on Monday. There are two intermediate sprints and a Category 3 climb.
"There was a roundabout at about two kilometers to go, and I took the left side together with a few of my teammates," Meersman said. "Tom Boonen and about half of the peloton took the right side. They lost their places near the front, and I really didn't know who was behind me. At a certain moment Maes was screaming that I had to do the sprint. But we were already into the last kilometer. Stybar pulled for me and then I jumped, but I jumped at 250 meters to go. I did the maximum at that distance, but two riders were able to pass me in the final meters. If I consider everything I am happy about this result. We had decided to do this stage for Tom, but he also had the problem at the roundabout. At the same time, I sprinted twice for the bonifications along the parcours. It was planned with Sport Director Wilfried Peeters. It was decided this morning that if I had the opportunity to do it I had to try. So, I did and it went well. My legs in the final were already burning from the earlier efforts, so if I consider all of these circumstances I am satisfied. Tomorrow is another day and we will see what we can do."more information