Michal Kwiatkowski has outlined his ambitions for the forthcoming season with Liège–Bastogne–Liège and the World Road Race Championships his main targets.
With two third places to his name – in 2014 and 2017 – Kwiatkowski has previously described Liège–Bastogne–Liège as ‘the race of his dreams’. And the Pole has made subtle tweaks to his early race programme to give him the best chance of success.
He said: “My main goal for the first part of the season is to be in the best shape possible for the Ardennes. Let’s hope I can be up there amongst the best riders to win Liege-Bastogne-Liege. I’ve slightly changed my approach to the season and I will start later, at the UAE Tour, then probably Paris-Nice and Pais Vasco so not as much racing [as 2018].
“I hope to be in the best shape possible for the Tour de France and in the last part of the season I would like to do some Classics for a change. I might go to Canada and I’d like to be in the best shape possible for Il Lombardia and the World Championships in Yorkshire.”
After a stellar 2017, when Kwiatkowski won Milan-San Remo, Strade Bianche and San Sebastian, the 28 year old demonstrated his world-class versatility in 2018, with a number of major stage race wins.
He said: “On reflection, the 2018 season was amazing for me, winning three stages races: Algarve, Tirreno-Adriatico – which was a big thing for me – and also the Tour of Poland.
“Winning stage races was not my main goal, but it was great to get such great results and get the first wins for Team Sky at Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour of Poland – I was very proud.
“It was also good to go for the GC at the Vuelta and aim for stages. It was my second Grand Tour of the season and it was not an easy challenge but I was up for it. I tried and I did my best and I had the leader’s jersey for a couple of days.
“It was really difficult to stay in top shape, having started in May with the Dauphine, Polish Championships, then the Tour de France and Tour of Poland before going to the Vuelta and then Worlds. It was a big challenge for me to stay at a high level but that experience will stay with me until the end of my career and I can use it in the future.”
Racing as Polish champion at the Tour of Poland was special enough for Kwiatkowski, but going on to take the overall title was something else.
“There are some races which you chase for a very long time and want to win, like Liege-Bastogne-Liege, which I still want to win one day. It was the same with Milan-San Remo until I won it in 2017 and it was the same situation with the Tour of Poland.
“I found that a very difficult challenge, especially performing in front of home crowds as there is always a big expectation from your fans to win on home soil.
“To win a stage, then win another stage in the leader’s jersey was an amazing experience and I think the people in Poland really enjoyed it. It’s good to finally have it on my palmares.”
The 2014 world road race champion, Kwiatkowski is eyeing this year’s World Championships, to be held on British soil in Yorkshire.
“It’s in my race programme to do the Worlds in Yorkshire, and looking at the World Championship course, which is nearly 300km, I would like to be in the best shape to compete with the best riders in the world.
“I know it’s going to be a difficult race and the weather at that time of year in that part of England can play a big role.
“One of the possibilities would be to race the Tour de Yorkshire to prepare, but coming so soon after the Ardennes – and with me wanting to be fresh for the Tour de France – it depends how the season goes to whether it fits in around my spring programme.”