Former world junior champion Kwiatkowski vows to fight to hold onto Tirreno Adriatico race lead
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Saturday, March 09, 2013

Former world junior champion Kwiatkowski vows to fight to hold onto Tirreno Adriatico race lead

by Shane Stokes at 4:50 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tirreno-Adriatico
 
Polish rider the surprise of the queen stage, seizes blue jersey with strong ride

Michal KwiatkowskiAlthough he’s a past junior world time trial champion and was the runner-up in last year’s Tour of Poland, Michal Kwiatkowski today surprised many when he took over the leadership in Tirreno-Adriatico. The 22 year old stuck with some of the world’s top climbers to the summit finish of the Prati di Tivo, netting fourth, while others such as Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) were left behind. The performance saw him end the day in the blue jersey of race leadership.

“Tirreno-Adriatico was one of my main goals for the beginning of the season, but I couldn't have expected before that I could take the leader's jersey today,” Kwiatkowski said, admitting that the day’s developments were also surprising to him.

“There a lot of big champions here like Contador, Froome, and Nibali. I didn't believe that I could maybe stay with them before today. But my team did such a great job from the first stages into today, so that I could believe in myself and do my best on the final climb to keep the leader's jersey in our team.”

Kwiatkowski, who is also a former European road race and time trial champion, had started the day second overall in the general classification, seven seconds behind his Omega Pharms Quick Step team-mate Mark Cavendish. It was accepted that the sprinter would lose the jersey, but the fact that the younger rider was able to succeed him was a big boost for the team.

Chris Froome’s Sky team tried to burn him off, setting a rapid pace on the final climb, but Kwiatkowski was able to stay in contention. While he couldn’t match Froome’s final kilometre acceleration, he finished just seven seconds behind the day’s runner up, Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia), was just two seconds behind Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Pro Team) and took two seconds out of Chris Horner (Team RadioShack) and Alberto Contador (Team Saxo Tinkoff).

Now, with a slight four second advantage over Froome, he’ll do everything he can to hold on at the top. “We have a really hard stage tomorrow. Until now everything went good,” he explained. “I don't know what I can expect from the others, but I will do my best to try and keep the jersey. I think I can get a lot of help from my teammates and I will focus on not losing too much time tomorrow, or the day after.”

Kwiatkowski has set a secondary goal of taking the white jersey for best young rider, but will fight to do what he can to hang onto what he has. While tomorrow’s stage features some tough climbs plus a steep finale which could suit a rider like Froome, the concluding leg of the race should should the Polish rider.

“My speciality is with the time trial. I will try to gain some seconds in the final stage,” he said. “There are a lot of strong riders, but we will all do our best, as we have until now, to achieve our goals."

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