20-Feb-2014: Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Michal Kwiatkowski earned his second victory of the season on Thursday, attacking with about 5km to go on the final climb of 196km Volta ao Algarve Stage 2 and giving all he had to hold off a chasing field.
Kwiatkowski had as much as 12″ of an advantage with just 2km to go, and won by 6″ over UCI World Road Champion Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo). OPQS had done plenty of work throughout the race to chase back breakaways, and Kwiatkowski finished the job with his late race attack.
Kwiatkowski also takes over the race lead.
OPQS now has nine wins — in three disciplines — in 2014. Seven of those victories are at only three road races this season.
“To start a season like this is always really nice,” Kwiatkowski said. “I worked so much on my climbing going into the season, I trained really hard with guys like Michal Golas in Spain, and I’m seeing a lot of improvements right now and it’s great to have wins that prove it. For this race, the last 60 kilometers were tricky. It was not easy to stay in the front, but the team kept me there comfortably. That was the key of the race, to stay in front. Tinkoff-Saxo was doing the rhythm and they had a few guys working before the last climb. I had Michal Golas at the bottom of the last climb with me. On the last climb Alberto Contador attacked with about 700 meters until the summit. I just followed him. When I looked back, no one was following us. I knew I had some energy reserved in the legs and went on my own. I knew there was a descent and a false flat after the climb, so if I attacked at the top of the climb I could get an advantage. Because, it’s not easy to chase back after that point. I did my own pace until the finish. It was really hard to get to the line, but I arrived and I am very happy with this victory. Algarve is only my second race this season and I’m thrilled as I’ve done a lot of work to get here. Since the beginning of the year I’ve also had such great support from my teammates and I want to thank them again today.”
Kwiatkowski looks to defend his overall lead at the Stage 3, 13.6km ITT on Friday.
“As for the yellow jersey, the second, third and fourth stages will likely decide the overall classification and it will be a fight until the end,” Kwiatkowski said. “It’s actually really nice to compete with guys like Costa and Contador. I have to give all I can tomorrow and the next days. Tomorrow is the time trial, which is only 13.6 kilometers, but we will see. I heard it was a bit technical, with a few corners at the end. It will be my first time trial of the year. It could be difficult, but I also worked on the time trial during the winter. Last year Tony Martin won the time trial and GC and I was 2nd, and now I will do my best to protect this jersey with the help of my team.”