FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Michal Kwiatkowski says he was just doing his job helping Sky teammate Chris Froome win a fourth Tour de France over the last three weeks, but his rides stood out from there rest.
“For sure, the cameras were on me, and for sure people could see when I was there working, bringing bottles, but people just see that because the cameras are on me,” he told VeloNews.
“All of my teammates did a hell of a job. We rode as a unit, all nine, we missed G [Geraint Thomas] after he crashed out, but Luke Rowe, Christian Knees, Sergio Henao, Mikel Nieve, Mikel Landa, Vasil Kiryienka, and Chris Froome, we were one unit. I’m thankful to be part of that team.”
Kwiatkowski joined Sky for 2016 after racing for team Quick-Step Floors. His grand tour climbing legs developed past the point that earned him 11th in the 2013 Tour de France. Often, the television cameras would spot him in the final third of a stage leading Sky over the penultimate pass in a mountain stage. He would typically continue to the last pass, before turning it over to Spaniards Nieve and Landa.
“That it is really important to focus on one goal,” he said when asked what he learned from this Tour. “It was enjoyable to just focus on Chris riding for the GC, and that was important to see that if you just focus on that then you can really perform well over the entire three weeks. That’s my lesson.”
He learned his lessons after years of work. With Quick-Step for four seasons, he won the Amstel Gold Race, the Volta ao Algarve, and the 2014 world championships in Ponferrada. Sky saw potential with Kwiatkowski’s rides, including his 11th in the 2013 Tour, and signed him for the Ardennes classics and smaller stage races.
It did not click in the first year, and he suffered trying to adapt to Sky’s rigorous training. “There are plenty of reasons,” he said in March after winning the Strade Bianche. “I had health problems, but I was pushing my limits. I wanted to impress everyone in training and everywhere. I’m not a machine, sooner or later you pay the bill.”
Over the winter, he had a long talk with team boss David Brailsford and trainer Tim Kerrison. They decided to use a mixed approach, incorporating some of Kwiatkowski’s own training routines with Sky’s.
“I needed to find a balance between racing and training,” he continued. “In Team Sky last year I trained so hard, we found that being ambitious with the recon and power meters wasn’t the way.”
The balance worked. He carried his fitness though the three weeks in France. Kwiatkowski capped it off in the stage 20 time trial with a second place behind Maciej Bodnar (Bora-Hansgrohe). Coincidentally, Bodnar was one of the Polish teammates that helped him to his 2014 worlds title.
“It’s too early to say [if I can ride as a grand tour leader], but I enjoyed racing for Team Sky, performing so well during the entire race.
“Chris was amazing throughout this whole race and I was so happy to support him. For sure, if I can improve a little on the climbing and time trialing, and performing [in] stage races, then I’ll for sure try.”