SHEFFIELD, United Kingdom, July 07, 2014 (AFP) – Rising star Michal
Kwiatkowski revealed he had been motivated by injured teammate Mark Cavendish
before finishing third on the second stage of the Tour de France.
The 24-year-old Polish time-trial champion has been in fine form this year,
winning the Tour of the Algarve in February and securing top five finishes at
all three Ardennes Classics in April.
He first really announced his talent to the world at last year’s Tour where
he wore the white jersey for best young rider for several days before
finishing third in that competition and 11th overall.
Some believe he can go even better and challenge for a top five finish this
The omens are good after he stuck with an elite group of overall
challengers to finish third on Sunday’s tough, hilly 201km stage from York to
Sheffield in northern England.
And after the finish he said he had been inspired by British sprinter and
Omega Pharma-Quick Step team leader Cavendish, who had to abandon the Tour
after crashing at the finish of Saturday’s opening stage.
“It’s a different feeling riding without Cav,” Kwiatkowski said. “I
honestly really missed him today (Sunday), he gave a really nice speech to us
this morning that motivated us. I hope he is well.
“For me, that was a stage which was close to a stage that can suit my
skills, such as Liege-Bastogne-Liege, but with a much higher speed.”
Kwiatkowski also finished third at Liege-Bastogne-Liege having earnt that
same position at Fleche-Wallonne and taken fifth at the Amstel Gold Race.
Kwiatkowski said it had been a struggle to keep up over nine categorised
climbs but that he was proud of his achievement.
“I suffered so much on all of the climbs. It was not easy to be in the
front,” he said.
“I think I did my best and I have nothing to complain about.”
He added: “I am happy about my performance and my third place finish. It
boosts my confidence.”
Kwiatkowski lost form following his strong April showing and even had to
pull out of the Tour of Romandie following a disastrous third stage in which
he lost more than half an hour, despite wearing the leader’s yellow jersey
after winning the opening prologue.
“Now, the feeling is back that I had from the beginning of the season and
my morale is high. I am happy to do well and, in a way, show Cav that we will
fight for him even though he is not here with us,” added Kwiatkowski.