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"Liege is a monument and of course I would love to achieve the best result there, but the others have a great story, so to win Amstel or Fleche would be equally fantastic."

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AMSTEL GOLD RACE

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FLECHE WALLONNE

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LIÈGE - BASTOGNE - LIÈGE

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MICHAL KWIATKOWSKI

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QUICK-STEP - ALPHA VINYL

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17.04.2015 @ 15:05 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Michal Kwiatkowski is one of the ridges to favourites for the Ardennes Classics, a classic in which he already finished on the podium last year when he was third in the Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. The world champion admits that it is "not easy" win in the rainbow jersey but he enjoys every moment in "the most beautiful jersey in cycling."

 

Like in the past, Kwiatkowski has excelled in the early part of the year. He was second in Algarve and Paris-Nice and now hopes to put the icing on the cake in Amstel Gold Race, Fleche Wallonne and Liege. In July, he wants to try again in the Tour de France. "The big goal is the the Ardennes. It would have been great to get results in the Basque Country, but I have to be fresh and have forces at the end of those classics because there are many who have prepared well for those races, like Valverde, Henao, Gilbert and Rodriguez," he says.

 

He was expecting more in the Basque race after his second place last year but this year he finished 8th in the GC and was 2nd in Bilbao, 4th in Vitoria, 4th in Zumarraga, 13th in Arrate, 11th in Aia and 10th in the final time trial. "My form was good but maybe I paid a bit for the toughness of some stages and the speed of the race. It is not easy being in front and it was impossible to take the time back in the time trial.

Everything was fine. There is nothing to worry about but it could have been better," he admits.

 

Last year he was third in Fleche Wallonne and Liege and fifth in Amstel and in 2013, he was fourth in Amstel and fifth in Fleche. "Liege is a monument and of course I would love to achieve the best result there, but the others have a great story, so to win Amstel or Fleche would be equally fantastic," he says.

 

Kwiatkowski doesn't rule anything out but he remains cautious. "This is sport. You have to have big ambitions and always make progress. Hopefully my condition is good enough to be competitive with the other favorites. It is difficult, especially with the rainbow jersey, but I never give up and of course I'll try to give the best of myself," he says.

 

He has not changed his combative attitude and ambition, but admits that the rainbow jersey can be a big burden at certain times. "It's difficult to win a race with the rainbow jersey, it's not easy. Of course, I'm going for the win, not for second place. At least I try, and that's what I've done in the Basque Country. I was always ready to fight for a stage win but that is not always what you get. Clearly, you're happier if you win," he confirms.

 

In that sense, he claims that his life has not changed "too much" after he won the worlds title in Ponferrada. "I'm still the same person and I try to do the things I've always done, training and following my progression. Of course I have more pressure than before, but I have good support from my team and my teammates. And I'm very happy to have this jersey, the most wonderful in cycling," he says.

 

Kwiatkowski debuted in San Luis where he was second in the time trial, finished second in Algarve and Paris-Nice where he won the prologue, was fourth in Dwars door Vlaanderen and eighth in the Basque Country. After the Ardennes, he will take a break. A training camp at altitude in May, the Tour of Switzerland and the National Championships will be his steps towards the Tour de France. Eleventh in 2013, he could only manage 28th last year. The Pole wants to find his place in the grand tours. "The three-week races are a learning process. At 24-25 years, I still think about becoming a champion in the grand tours, in races where you can go to the limits. I have to go step by step," he explains.

 

"To go for results in the GC of a grand tour means sacrificing much of the season, and I still don't want to do that because I want to prove myself in other races that I can win. I have to get more experience," he says.

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