Kwiatkowski sets sights on Liege, worlds

The Sky rider says he wants to win Liège-Bastogne-Liège this season.

Get access to everything we publish when you join VeloNews or Outside+.

Team Sky’s Mr. Versatility will keep it simple this year.

Michal Kwiatkowski is hoping to knock off Liège-Bastogne-Liège as well as win another world title and return to the Tour de France. What’s not to like?

“My main goal for the first part of the season is to be in the best shape possible for the Ardennes,” Kwiatkowski said Monday. “I’d like to be in the best shape possible for Il Lombardia and the world championships in Yorkshire.”

The prolific 28-year-old still has a few boxes to check on his to-do list. He already packs a world title (2014), a monument at Milano-Sanremo (2017), a string of impressive one-day classics — Strade Bianche, Amstel Gold Race, Clásica San Sebastián, and E3 Harelbeke — as well as a growing palmares of one-week stage races.

So what’s left to do? Liège and Lombardia, two monuments “Kwiato” believes he can win.

“There are some races that you chase for a very long time and want to win, like Liege-Bastogne-Liege, which I still want to win one day,” he said. “It was the same with Milan-San Remo until I won it in 2017 and it was the same situation with the Tour of Poland.”

Perseverance certainly pays off. Kwiatkowski said his breakout 2018 came on top of a very long season. This year, he said he’ll start his spring a little easier than last year in order to be in top shape for the Ardennes and the Tour de France, with something left over for the worlds and the fall classics.

“I’ve slightly changed my approach to the season and I will start later, at the UAE Tour, then probably Paris-Nice and Pais Vasco so not as much racing” as 2018, he said. “I hope to be in the best shape possible for the Tour de France and in the last part of the season, I would like to do some classics for a change.”

Kwiatkowski said he also hopes to earn a berth on Sky’s Tour de France squad. Last year, he was a key support rider in the mountains in a performance that boosted speculation that he could evolve into a grand tour contender.

He won stage races in Algarve, Tirreno-Adriatico, and his national Polish tour before barnstorming into the Vuelta a España with leadership options. He held the red leader’s jersey but the wheels fell off with a heavy crash in week two. That doesn’t mean he won’t try again.

“On reflection, the 2018 season was amazing for me,” he said. “Winning stage races was not my main goal, but it was great to get such great results.

“It was really difficult to stay in top shape, having started in May with the Dauphine, Polish Championships, then the Tour de France and Tour of Poland before going to the Vuelta and then worlds,” he continued. “It was a big challenge for me to stay at a high level, but that experience will stay with me until the end of my career and I can use it in the future.”

Kwiatkowski will make his season debut at the UAE Tour in February. He’ll race Paris-Nice, his first European race of the season, in early March.