Michal Kwiatkowski powers to Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen prologue
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Friday, March 2, 2012

Michal Kwiatkowski powers to Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen prologue

by Ben Atkins at 11:07 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
Polish rider fastest over Middelkerke seafront course; Omega Pharma-Quick Step puts two on the podium this time

Michal KwiatkowskiMichal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) took the opening prologue of the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen - Three Days of West Flanders - Johan Museeuw Classics, after powering around the Middelkerke seafront course in a time of eight minutes exactly. The Polish rider, who was one of the most active riders in the closing stages of Wednesday's Le Samyn semi-Classic, finished four seconds faster than Omega Pharma-Quick Step teammate Julien Vermote, with Robert Wagner (RadioShack-Leopard) another five seconds back.

Last year’s race winner Jesse Sergent (RadioShack-Nissan), whose race victory was based on a dominant display in the prologue, was fifth, ten seconds behind Kwiatkowski.

“It's the best day of my life," said Kwiatkowski after his victory was confirmed. "I didn't expect to win today. I knew that I had the legs for a good result, maybe top five or top three, but not the victory. I'm over the moon.

“Everything went perfect,” he explained. “The approach to the race, the race itself and my great Specialized machine. I really raced full gas. Now I really want to enjoy the first win of my career, I"ll never forget this moment. It repaid me for all the effort I did in the last weeks.

“I want to share this victory with all the people who have an important part in my life and of course this extraordinary team, a real band of brothers,” he added.

A flat out and back, with very little wind

The course, identical to the one used last year, consisted of an almost completely flat out and back course through the streets and seafront of the North Sea resort town. With only a light win blowing off the sea, there was very little in the way of obstacles for the riders.

Marco Bandiera (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) got the race under way, and stopped the clock at what looked like a reasonable time of 8’48”. The Italian was to be in the hot seat for less than 15 minutes though, as first Brian Bulgac (Lotto-Belisol), Matti Helminen (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony), and then David Boucher (FDJ-BigMat) went progressively faster.

The Frenchman’s time of 8’33” had rather more longevity, and it was almost 45 minutes until British champion Alex Dowsett (Team Sky) blasted round the course in 8’18”.

Dowsett’s time looked as though it might be good enough for victory, given that Sergent won the race last year with 8’14”, and it was to stand for more than an hour. Wagner went nine seconds faster though, lowering it to 8’09”, and the very next rider was Vermote, who went five seconds faster still.

Vermote’s time of 8’04” was to last all of fifty minutes, with Omega Pharma-Quick Step teammate Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, and Garmin Barracuda’s Jack Bauer going close, until teammate Kwiatkowski blasted round the course in eight minutes dead.

There were still 24 riders to come however, including Russian champion Mikhail Ignatiev (Katusha), three-time World champion Michael Rogers (Team Sky), Alex Rasmussen (Garmin-Barracuda), and Sergent.

None of the top-favourites could get close to Kwiatkowski’s time however, with Ignatiev and Rogers finishing 13 seconds slower, and Rasmussen, then Sergent slotting in behind Wagner, bit ten seconds back.

Where Sergent’s RadioShack team dominated the 2011 race, OmegaPharma-Quick Step was the one to get two riders on the podium this time; continuing the Belgian team’s storming spring, Van Keirsbulck made it three riders inside the top six.

Result prologue
1. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 7km in 8’00”
2. Julien Vermote (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step @ 4s
3. Robert Wagner (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan @ 9s
4. Alex Rasmussen (Den) Garmin-Barracuda @ 10s
5. Jesse Sergent (NZl) RadioShack-Nissan @ 10s
6. Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step @ 10s
7. Mikhail Ignatiev (Rus) Katusha Team @ 13s
8. Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Sky
9. Jack Bauer (NZl) Garmin-Barracuda @ 14s
10 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Barracuda @ 15s


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