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LINARES, Spain (VN) — Michal Kwiatkowski stepped gingerly out of the Team Sky bus Saturday morning. His left arm and knee were wrapped in bandages. The morning after a crash is often the hardest moment. Kwiatkowski was hopeful his crash near the end of Friday’s stage 7 wouldn’t ruin his chances in the Vuelta a España.
“I am stiffer than before,” Kwiatkowski said with a laugh. “It’s not ideal, it’s part of cycling. I have some scratches and bruises. Nothing too serious.”
Kwiatkowski and Sky teammates Sergio Henao and Tao Geoghegan Hart all crashed on a corner during a descent late in Friday’s stage. Kwiatkowski tried to limit the damage but lost 25 seconds to his direct GC rivals. Instead of riding at the top of the “virtual” leaderboard, he’s slipped back on the overall classification.
Sky’s near-perfect start to the Vuelta almost ended Friday. Sky’s David de la Cruz barely missed crashing with his teammates and was able to finish with the lead group.
“It was a very slippery corner, I don’t know if I even touched the brakes. There was not time to react,” Kwiatkowski told VeloNews. “They say the safest place to be is at the front, and all three of us crashed at the front. We couldn’t avoid it. It always can be worse. You can break a bone.”
After a stellar summer campaign, Kwiatkowski is coming into this Vuelta to see how far he can go. After proving himself in one-week stage races and one-day races, Kwiatkowski wants to test the waters in a run at a grand tour.
A crash certainly wasn’t in the plan, but the team vows to overcome the setback and put Kwiatkowski and de la Cruz in good position going into Sunday’s important mountaintop finale. It’s the Vuelta’s second summit finish and will provide a further glimpse at who has the legs to fight for the overall victory.
Kwiatkowski is hopeful his crash Friday won’t hamper his chances in Sunday’s decisive climb.
“I want to hang on as long as possible there, so let’s hope after the crash, I am ready to perform well tomorrow,” he said. “I was super-motivated yesterday and I just had some bad luck. I am not super happy right now, but I want to keep on racing. Otherwise, if I start thinking about my crash, I go crazy.”