7. Michal Kwiatkowski
27, Poland, Team Sky
2017 wins: 4
Michal Kwiatkowski signed for Team Sky in 2016 with the team hoping that he would develop into one of the best all-round riders in the peloton. Unfortunately he couldn’t produce that in his debut season last year, but more than made up for it this time round.
The Pole started the year in scintillating fashion, becoming one of the few riders to beat Greg Van Avermaet in the spring as he took his second Strade Bianche victory with a brilliant solo win on the wet white roads of Tuscany.
Also on Italian soil, Kwiatkowski played a cunning tactical game to win his first Monument at Milan-San Remo. Chasing down a Poggio attack from Peter Sagan, Kwiatkowski then sat on the world champion’s wheel, before launching a powerful sprint in the final 200m to take victory in a tight photo finish in one of the best race finales of the 2017 season.
From there, a string of top 10s at the Ardennes Classics gave a glimpse of the climbing legs we always knew he had, before Kwiatkowski transformed himself into a vital domestique for Chris Froome’s assault on the Tour de France.
Effectively two riders in one, Kwiatkowski was able to keep Froome out of trouble on the flat stages, before hitting the front himself in the mountains, setting a high pace and memorably riding himself to a complete standstill on the Col d’Izoard.
Surely a crack at riding a Grand Tour for himself can’t be too far around the corner?