Michal Kwiatkowski was left disappointed on Sunday after failing to defend his World Championship title, as he aimed to become the first man since Paolo Bettini in 2007 to secure two consecutive years in the rainbow jersey.
The Pole finished in eighth place in the end, finishing in the second group three seconds behind winner Peter Sagan (Slovakia), and says he was unable to really contest the final sprint for a potential podium place after the long 259km day in the saddle.
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“Certainly I feel unsatisfied,” Kwiatkowski told polsatsport.pl. “I started with the intention of defending the rainbow jersey. This was my goal. In the end there was maybe not a real chance to win, but for a medal. I ran out in the final sprint.”
The 25-year-old was far from inactive during the race round Richmond, USA, staying close to the front of the bunch for much of the day before jumping across to a short-lived, but elite, six-man breakaway that was instigated by Britain’s Ian Stannard with three laps to go of the course.
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The group, which included another former champion in Tom Boonen (Belgium), was eventually caught with 17km to go as they tired after going full gas to get away, accruing around a 30 second gap on the chasers behind.
Kwiatkowski admitted the move cost him some energy for the finale of the race, and those who tried to bridge across to the group were unable to help increase the gap after spending all their power making the bridge across.
“There was no desire to return to the main group” Kwiatkowski said about the break.
“No-one in the escape was not giving one hundred per cent, and we easily gained 30 seconds advantage. Coming onto the flat stretch the escape was losing power, but those who chased us lost strength after jumping over to our group. In the end, it came to a draw.”
Kwiatkowski, who joins Team Sky for the 2016 season after leaving Etixx – Quick-Step, won the Amstel Gold Race and put in an impressive performance at Paris-Nice during his time in the rainbow stripes, but now heads to the British team after one last appearance for Etixx at Il Lombardia next weekend.
“I’ll be very motivated [for Lombardia],” Kwiatkowski added. “I want to thank them for these four years spent in the Belgian team. But already I’m thinking about next year. I would like to be even more successful with Sky, where I’ve signed a two-year contract. I have high hopes.”