Team Sky Welshman Owain Doull says that Polish team-mate Michal Kwiatkowski has been an inspiration during the 2017 season
It was Doull’s first full season with Team Sky, having stepped up to WorldTour level from Team Wiggins and it has been a year of experience – some of which he gained from riding with Kwiatkowski.
“He’s a really cool guy… it’s amazing to ride with him,” Doull said in a season review published by Team Sky.
“I only raced with him a few times – the Ardennes at the start of the year and Strade Bianche, but I picked up more at the Tour of Britain. It’s how he goes about a race, how he approaches it, and how he always wants to win, all the time – it doesn’t have to be with him, but with someone.
“He was the most impressive and inspiring person I raced with this year.”
Kwiatkowski certainly had a stand-out season, winning Milan-San Remo, Strade Bianche and Clásica de San Sebastián. He also switched to super-domestique duty to put in a mammoth effort to support Chris Froome for his fourth Tour de France victory in July.
Doull rated the Tour of Britain as his favourite race of the year, particularly as it finished in his home city of Cardiff, where he was amazed at the size of the crowds despite less than favourable weather. He finished ninth overall, with Kwiatkowski in fifth behind winner Lars Boom (LottoNL-Jumbo).
The two riders were also part of Sky’s team time trial line-up that secured bronze at the World Championships in September in Bergen, Norway.
Doull’s year didn’t have a perfect start, as he had to withdraw from starting the Tour Down Under in January at the last minute due to appendicitis. That set back his spring goals, but he bounced back for the spring classics. However, he says that Team Sky did not rush him back into racing after the operation to remove his appendix.
“I missed a lot of race days, but there was never any pressure or rush to make me race any earlier than I had to,” said Doull.
Having completed his first season as a WorldTour pro, Doull is now looking ahead to 2018. He wants to return to the Classics and make more of an impression on the races that evidently made an impression on him.
“After doing them [the Classics] this year, I realised the scale of it, and how big they are, and also that if you want to be competitive, or want to get further into those races in the future, you have to put the work in,” stated Doull.
“Every year you train, but until you go to those big races and see the level you have to be at to be competitive in them… It’s quite inspiring. So that’s the big one for me next year.”