by Barnaby CHESTERMAN
PONFERRADA, Spain, Sept 29, 2014 (AFP) – Simon Gerrans may have missed out
on the world champion’s rainbow jersey but he promised that the three World
Championship medallists would continue battling in one-day classics over the
years to come.
Australia’s Gerrans was beaten into second in Ponferrada, Spain by Poland’s
first ever world champion, Michal Kwiatkowski, while Spaniard Alejandro
Valverde came third.
What was significant about that result was that they were the three main
protagonists back in April during the Ardennes Classics.
Gerrans won Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Valverde was second in that but won La
Fleche Wallonne and Kwiatkowski was third in both of those.
All three also secured top five finishes at the Amstel Gold.
Kwiatkowski is only 24 and while he has yet to win a one-day Classic, he is
tipped by many to break his duck before long.
Gerrans and Valverde may both be 34 but have recently signed new contracts
with Orica GreenEdge and Movistar respectively, and expect to be competing for
more honours in the years to come.
“Obviously Michal has a few more years ahead of him than Alejandro and I,”
said Gerrans, who won another Spring Classic, Milan-San Remo, in 2012.
“The three of us have had some great battles this year but Alejandro has
renewed his contract for three years and I’ve done the same thing so I think
we’ll have a few more great battles in the years to come.”
Valverde said he certainly wasn’t planning on moving over for the younger
generation just yet.
“I’ve signed for the team for another three years. I’ll always fight and
keep going with ambition,” said Valverde, a double winner of Liege, Fleche and
the Clasica de San Sebastian.
“Kwiatkowski’s a great rider, I told him that before the race and again
after the race.
“He’s tactically very strong, he has great potential, he’s a dangerous
“He’s younger than us and, as Simon said, he’ll have more opportunities,
but I think we’ll still be around for a lot longer to make things hard for
Kwiatkowski said he may one day reassess his objectives and focus on the
Grand Tours — he was 11th at the Tour de France in his debut last year — but
for the moment he is targeting success in the one-day Classics.
Having had an excellent start to the year, winning the Tour of Algarve and
finishing second in the Tour of the Basque Country before his three top five
finishes at the Ardennes Classics, he went off the boil in the middle part of
the season, culminating in a disappointing 28th placed finish at the Tour.
But the young Pole said it was normal for him to get tired at around that
time and all he needed was some rest to come back refreshed for his tilt at
the world title.
“When you’re 24 and the season is so long, starting racing in January and
finishing in October, it’s difficult to find straight away the perfect race
programme for your body,” he said.
“But I’m in the best team (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) to find my way. I made
such a step forward in the Classics, that’s what I learnt from this year.
“I still cannot say what my possibilities are in Grand Tours but it’s not
really the time to check myself in Grand Tours because being a Grand Tour
rider needs a lot of experience and you need to sacrifice the rest of the
“But for the moment I like the Classics and I still (have time) to think
about my future.”