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Eleventh overall in last year’s Tour but under pressure in the Vosges and Alps this time round, Michal Kwiatkowski has said that he is nevertheless satisfied with he has done thus far in the race. The statement, made during a video interview on the Tour’s second rest day, is not due to a lowering of ambitions on his part, but rather in the context of the fatigue he felt last month.
The Polish rider had a superb start to the season, winning Strade Bianche, the Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana and two stages plus the overall in the Volta ao Algarve. He also won the prologue of the Tour de Romandie, was second in the Volta al Pais Vasco, third in Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège and fifth in the Amstel Gold Race.
However, despite that momentum, he dropped out of both the Tour de Romandie and the Critérium du Dauphiné.
“Honestly, I am really happy with what I have presented on the Tour so far, because if you look back on how I was feeling in the Dauphiné, I was not really confident how my form will be here in the Tourm” he said in the interview with CyclingTips below.
“Of course, it would be nice to present the form from the first part of the season. But it’s like this. That’s bike racing. I tried.”
Given his eleventh place in his Tour debut last year plus his tenure in the white jersey earlier in this year’s race, many expected him to show in the mountains and the overall standings. However he was sitting back in sixteenth overall on the rest day, his position representing a much quieter Tour than he had expected.
Asked what went wrong in his Tour buildup, he said that an over-ambitious schedule was likely at fault. “I think it was the moment when I chose Romandie after a successful Ardenees…it was maybe a good idea to take a stage win over there, but in the end I had no time to recover after this period.
“I think that it was not really a proper break, preparing for the Dauphiné and then losing confidence. Then starting training right after the Dauphiné and preparing for the Tour. It was difficult for me, but in the end what I can say is that I am happy I can feel like that here in the Tour.
“I am not 100 percent form..you can see me on the climbs, suffering so much. I was feeling much, much better in the first part of the season. But, honestly, there is no pressure about the Tour. I didn’t come here about fighting for the place on the top ten or something like that. I came here specially to gain experience, for learning and that is an important thing.
“If I end up top 20, top 30 GC it doesn’t matter. What matters is what I can learn from the Tour and how I can move my limits somewhere that can help me in the future.”
His performances in races earlier this year suggest that he could have a very bright future in the Grand Tours, but he said that it was too soon to be able to predict if that goal could work out. The foundations are there, but the structure is still being built.
“For sure there has to be somewhere in my career, the moment when I have to test myself specifically just in the Grand Tours. But for the moment you need to have experience as well in different races.
“For the Grand Tour, you need to learn something from Sanremo, from Paris-Roubaix, from the Ardennes, from different races.
“When you are 24 years old, you cannot just say that you are aiming for the Tour as I think that is a bad way. For sure in my career there is going to be a moment when I am aiming to test myself as a GC contender. But for the moment I am just learning.”
He discusses these subjects in the video above, as well as his thoughts on this year’s world road race championships in Ponferrada, Spain.