Kwiatkowski continues impressive season with Tour de France white jersey
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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Kwiatkowski continues impressive season with Tour de France white jersey

by Kyle Moore at 3:50 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
“Actually, it’s not too bad,” says Martin; Chavanel wanted a birthday win

Michal KwiatkowskiPolish national road race champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) has come of age in his fourth full professional season, and his third spent in the WorldTour ranks.

The Pole began with Caja Rural in 2010 before spending a year with Radioshack, and is now in his second season with Omega Pharma-Quick Step. Kwiatkowski has played a major role in big races since the season began, and has now gotten his summer off to an outstanding start. By virtue of his third place on stage two of the Tour de France, Kwiatkowski moved into the white jersey as the Tour’s best young rider, tied on time with Peter Sagan (Cannondale).

Ever since January, when he held the overall lead before eventually finishing 12th in the Tour de San Luis, Kwiatkowski has been visible, and a valuable member of his squad.

He was second overall in the Volta ao Algarve, and fourth in Tirreno-Adriatico after holding the overall lead there as well. The 23-year-old was a valuable helper for his squad in the Tour of Flanders, and then he featured in the Ardennes Classics, finishing fourth in the Amstel Gold Race and fifth in Flèche Wallone.

After earning the right to zip up the Polish national champion’s jersey for the next year, Kwiatkowski zipped up the white jersey on the Tour de France podium on Sunday. Though he’ll hold the spot for at least one day, he’s still treating the situation like a Tour rookie such as himself commonly would – with both happiness and caution.

“It's an amazing day. I had a plan to finish the Tour de France but I didn't have a plan to have the white jersey,” he admitted. “So, I was really happy, especially after such an unlucky day yesterday. I finished third in the stage today and I took the white jersey.

“This jersey is well respected. I really don't know how many stages I will be able to keep it, but it will be nice to have it even for one day. My goal in this Tour de France is to learn as much as I can and finish the race. I don't really think about the white jersey [long term].”

In spite of Monday’s climbing, which culminates in a category-two ascent cresting 13 kilometres from the finish, there is no reason to believe that Kwiatkowski couldn’t keep a hold of the best young rider’s classification at least one more day. The team time trial follows on Tuesday, and Omega Pharma-Quick Step will be considered one of the favourites for the stage.

To do well there, the squad will want the services of Tony Martin, and it sounds as if they are likely to have the German world time trial champion. Martin suffered a concussion and a host of other injuries in the big crash on Saturday, but he took the start of stage two and evidently finished the stage without much trouble.

“Actually it's not too bad,” Martin revealed. “First of all I was happy to be able to start here. Okay, my feeling was good today compared to what happened yesterday but for sure I suffered today. I'm happy to be able to finish today. I'm quite optimistic about the next stages.”

Things haven’t yet gone the way Omega Pharma-Quick Step sprinter Mark Cavendish would have wanted, and after he was dropped on the difficult second climb of stage two, the Belgian team’s best hope for the stage win perhaps rested on the shoulders of Sylvain Chavanel, who was celebrating his 34th birthday.

Chavanel sparked the group out of which came the eventual stage winner, Jan Bakelants of Radioshack-Leopard. When Bakelants got a gap on his own nearing the final kilometre, Chavanel had a chance to try and close it down, but didn’t complete the job.

“I think it was the right moment to move. The other five riders came with me,” Chavanel explained. “We were working well together since the last two kilometres. When Bakelants went I didn't want to take the responsibility to close the gap alone. If you want to win sometimes you have to take a few risks and play tactically. It's a pity because I was strong and a win on my birthday would have been fantastic.

“However let me congratulate Kwiato for his white jersey, and Tony for the courage he showed today after yesterday's crash.”

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