Michal Kwiatkowski Becomes Poland’s First World Champion

Kwiatkowski_Win_WC_2014
by Barnaby CHESTERMAN

PONFERRADA, Spain, Sept 28, 2014 (AFP) – Michal Kwiatkowski timed his
breakaway to perfection to make history as the first Polish rider to win the
men’s road race world title on Sunday.

Following a 254km race in torrid, wet conditions, Australia’s Simon Gerrans
won a six-man sprint for second ahead of Spain’s Alejandro Valverde, third for
the third year in a row.

But it was Kwiatkowski’s break with about 8km left, first reeling in four
escapees and then going alone on the final climb, that proved decisive.

And the new owner of the rainbow jersey said he was delighted to have taken
the risk, although he admitted his attack wasn’t planned.

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“I felt so much pain after the last descent, 1.5km is still a long way
cannot,” he said.

“I can’t describe what I felt, this feeling for me to win the World
Championships is just incredible.

“I saw the guys coming but I had a little bit of an advantage at the top
(of the final climb).

“I knew that it was everything or nothing. I risked but in the end that
worked.

“I just didn’t know how I made it because that actually was a very risky
attack, but in the end it worked.

“It’s hard to say, I still need to sleep with that and then I will say more
about my feelings.”

Gerrans praised Kwiatkowski for timing his attack to perfection.

“To be honest, I didn’t see where Michal slipped off the front but he
slipped off the front and had the legs to hold off the bunch, so yeah, he did
a really good ride,” said the Aussie, winner of Liege-Bastogne-Liege in April.

“I didn’t see where he slipped off but when he did, I realised it would be
really difficult to catch him from there.”

Four riders had a 36sec lead on a group of around 10 chasers and 44sec on
the peloton when the riders started the final of 14 laps of the 18.2km circuit
around Ponferrada.

As the escapees were close to being reeled in, Kwiatkowski attacked out of
the peloton on a fast descent.

He breezed up to the back of the breakaway group and left them all for dead
on the final climb, a 1km slog that began with 5km left.

Over the top with just 4km to ride, he had a 9sec lead over six
counter-attackers coming out of the peloton.

Amongst them, 2012 world champion Philippe Gilbert sacrificed himself for
Belgian team-mate Greg Van Avermaet in leading the chase.

But no-one would help and Kwiatkowski was even able to sit up and celebrate
as he crossed the line, just one second ahead of Gerrans.

Gilbert’s efforts were to no avail as Van Avermaet could manage only fifth.

The race had begun with a doomed four-man breakaway that gained 15min on
the peloton at one point but had been reeled in with around 70km left.

That was when Italy increased the pace dramatically in the peloton
provoking some frenetic racing and a raft of attacks.

Three-time world time-trial champion Tony Martin of Germany went off on his
own with around 55km left but was caught just 15km later.

By then France were setting the pace in the peloton and Cyril Gautier made
a break inside the final two laps, quickly followed by Italy’s Alessandro De
Marchi and Michael Andersen of Denmark, with Vasil Kiryienka of Belarus
catching them before the final lap.

It looked like they might have the legs until the hosts upped the pace in
the peloton and their gap quickly started to come down.

But rather than Valverde making the decisive break, Kwiatkowskki stole a
march on him.

Even when Spain’s Joaquim Rodriguez launched the first counter-attack to
set up Valverde, it was too late as the Pole had a gap he was not going to
relinquish.

Valverde thus took his sixth podium, but with two silver medals and four
bronze dating back to 2005, he has yet to wear the fabled rainbow jersey.

Results from the final day of the
road World Championships in Ponferrada, Spain on Sunday:

Men’s elite road race – 254.8km
1. Michal Kwiatkowski (POL) 6hr 29min 07sec, 2. Simon Gerrans (AUS) at
1sec, 3. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) same time, 4. Matti Breschel (DEN) s.t., 5.
Greg Van Avermaet (BEL) s.t., 6. Tony Gallopin (FRA) s.t., 7. Philippe Gilbert
(BEL) 4, 8. Alexander Kristoff (NOR) 7, 9. John Degenkolb (GER) s.t., 10.
Nacer Bouhanni (FRA) s.t.
11. Fabian Cancellara (SUI) s.t., 12. Ben Swift (GBR) s.t., 13. Sonny
Colbrelli (ITA) s.t., 14. Michael Matthews (AUS) s.t., 15. Ramunas
Navardauskas (LTU) s.t., 16. Daryl Impey (RSA) s.t., 17. Maciej Paterski (POL)
s.t., 18. Bauke Mollema (NED) s.t., 19. Warren Barguil (FRA) s.t., 20. Michael
Andersen (DEN) s.t.

Factfile of men’s road race world
champion Michal Kwiatkowski:

Full name: Michal Kwiatkowski
Date of birth: June 2, 1990
Place of birth: Dzialyn, Poland
Height: 1m76
Weight: 68kg
Nickname: Flower Power

Country: Poland
Teams: MG Kvis-Norda Pacific (2009), Caja Rural (2010), Team RadioShack
(2011), Omega Pharma-Quick Step (2012-)

Major results:
Grand Tours – Tour de France (3rd in young riders standings 2013 & 2014)
Stage races – 2nd Tour of Poland (2012), 1st Tour of Algarve (2014) 2nd
(2013), 2nd Tour of Basque Country (2014), 2nd Tour of Britain (2014)
Day races – 1st Polish national championships (2013), 1st Strade Bianche
(2014), 3rd Fleche Wallonne (2014), 3rd Liege-Bastogne-Liege (2014), 4th
Amstel Gold (2013), 1st World Championships road race (2014)
Timetrials – World junior champion (2008), Polish champion (2014), World
team champion (2013)

A list of winners at the 2014 UCI
road World Championships in Ponferrada, Spain:

Men’s elite road race – Michal Kwiatkowski (POL)
Women’s elite road race – Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (FRA)
Men’s under-23 road race – Sven Erik Bystrom (NOR)
Men’s junior road race – Jonas Bokeloh (GER)
Women’s junior road race – Amalie Dideriksen (DEN)
Men’s elite time-trial – Bradley Wiggins (GBR)
Women’s elite time-trial – Lisa Brennauer (GER)
Men’s under-23 time-trial – Campbell Flakemore (AUS)
Men’s junior time-trial – Lennard Kamna (GER)
Women’s junior time-trial – Macey Stewart (AUS)
Men’s team time-trial – BMC Racing
Women’s team time-trial – Specialized-Lululemon

A list of world road race
champions over the last 20 years:

2014 – Michal Kwiatkowski (POL)
2013 – Rui Costa (POR)
2012 – Philippe Gilbert (BEL)
2011 – Mark Cavendish (GBR)
2010 – Thor Hushovd (NOR)
2009 – Cadel Evans (AUS)
2008 – Alessandro Ballan (ITA)
2007 – Paolo Bettini (ITA)
2006 – Paulo Bettini (ITA)
2005 – Tom Boonen (BEL)
2004 – Oscar Freire (ESP)
2003 – Igor Astaloa (ESP)
2002 – Mario Cippolini (ITA)
2001 – Romans Vainsteins (LAT)
2000 – Oscar Freire (ESP)
1999 – Oscar Freire (ESP)
1998 – Oscar Camezind (SUI)
1997 – Laurent Brochard (FRA)
1996 – Johan Museeuw (BEL)
1995 – Abraham Olano (ESP)