Michal Kwiatkowski will have the honour of wearing the rainbow stripes throughout the 2015 season, but the 24-year-old Pole has said he wants to remain the grounded person he is now. Kwiatkowski pulled off a tactical coup in the final stages of the world championships road race in Ponferrada, riding away on a tricky descent before pushing home his advantage as the likes of Alejandro Valverde, Simon Gerrans and Philippe Gilbert neutralised each other in the final two kilometres.
“I want to stay as the same guy,” Kwiatkowski said in his new jersey. “I should ask Tom Boonen, my Omega Pharma team-mate, how winning the 2005 Worlds in Madrid changed his life. I was 15 at the time, but he could say how that win changed his life over the last nine years.”
Belgium’s Tom Boonen followed up his 2005 title win with major spring classics, including the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, and Kwiatkowski’s trajectory should be the same.
In 2013, he placed 11th overall in his first Tour de France, this spring he beat Peter Sagan at Strade Bianche before placing top five in all three of the Ardennes Classics. His short term future is likely to remain focused on smaller stages races and the one-day classics.
“I made a big step forward in the classics, that’s what I learnt this year.” Kwiatkowski said. “I still can’t say what’s possible in Grand Tours, but what can I say, it’s not yet time to check myself in Grand Tours, you need a lot of experience to sacrifice the rest of your races to do that. For the moment, the classics are what I like and are what I want to think about in 2015.”
Kwiatkowski will continue to benefit from a strong team that already has two road race world champions on its roster: Boonen and Mark Cavendish. General Manager Patrick Lefevere drank Champagne with his young Polish rider after his world championships win and began discussions on what changes the team will make for 2015.
“Of course when you are 24 years old, when it’s been a long season racing from January to October, it’s difficult to find a perfect race programme, but I think I’m in the best team to find my way,” Kwiatkowski said.