Michal Kwiatkowski dreams of Tour of Poland victory
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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Michal Kwiatkowski dreams of Tour of Poland victory

by Ben Atkins at 5:12 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of Poland
 
Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Polish captain preparing for his home race on the roads of the Giro d’Italia

michal kwiatkowskiOmega Pharma-Quick Step’s Michal Kwiatkowski is currently riding the Giro d’Italia, where he is supporting the overall ambitions of Italian teammate Dario Cataldo, but his own personal ambitions lie elsewhere. As a second-year pro, the focus of the 21-year-old Pole’s season will be his home race, the Tour of Poland, which will run between July 10th and 17th.

Kwiatkowski has had a strong season so far; he was instrumental in much of Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s all-conquering Classics campaign - as well as winning the opening time trial of the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen - and is now building his form towards the summer, and what will be his debut in the Polish Tour.

“I’m in great shape and I’m riding well,” he said. “For me this is an important challenge as I look forward to upcoming events, first and foremost the Tour de Pologne and the Olympics.”

Born in the city of Toruń, in the centre of the country, Kwiatkowski will aim to become the first home rider to take the race since it became part of the International Cycling Union (UCI) ProTour in 2005. Although the entire race will be run in Poland’s southern region, close to its borders with the Czech Republic and Slovakia, it will be an area that is very familiar to him.

“I know the roads of the 2012 Tour de Pologne very well, even though they are far from my hometown of Toruń,” he explained. “I think it’s a beautiful route with interesting stages where things will be quite spectacular. There are a lot of climbs, so it will be important to start out in top form.

“I can’t deny that I’m dreaming of a good placing in the general classification. For a Polish racer this race is super important.”

With a variety of stage profiles, including some tough days in the mountains, Kwiatkowski does not want to point at one in particular in his quest for the yellow jersey.

“When you race for the GC all the stages are important,” he said. “It’s essential to stay in the thick of the race, to not get distracted and at the same time not waste precious energy, to save up for the final.”

Kwiatkowski’s first memories of his home tour go back to his childhood, when he was able to take part in a support race.

“I was 12 or 13,” he explained. “Before the pro race there was a race for kids, the Mini Tour de Pologne. We were racing in Gdansk and for me to be there was a dream come true. I finished the race in second place, it was a thrill!

“The formula for the Mini Tour de Pologne is very interesting. I’m happy that now they are featuring it before each stage of the Tour. In Poland cycling is growing day by day and I think this is also thanks to the Mini Tour de Pologne, which lets kids experience something unforgettable, like it was for me.

“I also vividly remember the last time the Tour passed through Toruń,” he added. “It was 2006 and I was there on the side of the road to try and collect as many water bottles from the international teams as I could. I remember the speed, the colours, and the sounds of the bikes as they sped past. Unforgettable moments.”

Aside from the Tour of Poland, Kwiatkowski’s ambitions for the season are the same as for many other riders in the peloton.

“The dream is to be able to participate in the Olympics on behalf of my country and bring home some good results for Poland,” he said. “To do that I have to already be strong at the Tour de Pologne, which at that point is my other objective. That month I’m going to have to ride really, really hard…"

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