Michal Kwiatkowski ahead of Liège-Bastogne-Liège: ‘This is the race of my dreams’

The Milan-San Remo winner says he feels in great shape heading into the year's fourth Monument

After a stellar start to his season, Team Sky’s Michał Kwiatkowski will begin Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège as one of the favourites.

Kwiatkowski will spearhead Team Sky’s defence of the race they won with Dutchman Wout Poels last year, a victory which bagged the British team its first win in the five Monuments of cycling.

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Finishing third in 2014, Kwiatkowski has form at La Doyenne, and hopes one day to add it to his palmarès.

>>> The climbs of Liège-Bastogne-Liège

“I know how difficult it is and how winning Liège can change your life and your career,” the quietly spoken 26-year-old told a pre-race press conference.

“I have been thinking about being in the best possible shape for Liège-Bastogne-Liège. It is the race of my dreams.”

Team Sky take a strong team to Liège on Sunday and that gives them options with Diego Rosa, Gianni Moscon as outside bets. It will be Kwiatkowski and Sergio Henao who will lead the team though.

“For us it is a really good situation,” the former world champion explained. “We can force people to work hard, but Movistar can only aim for the best result with Alejandro, we can play different cards and me and Sergio can sit until St Nicholas, which is the main target, to try and play the game over there.”

This year’s edition of the 258km race will see some changes from previous years. Gone is the short, steep cobbled climb used in the finish last year and three new climbs take the place of the Côtes de Wanne, Stockeau and Haut Levée, dropped because of road works.

Those three will be replaced by the Côtes du Pont, de Bellevue and de la Ferme Libert, the latter of which averages 12 per cent gradient over its 1.2km. These changes, however, will not change the race, according to Kwiatkowski.

“I don’t think that’s crucial. We have the old final with St Nicholas and the Roche-aux-Faucons before, so it is still going to be the same race. It is the hardest non-cobbled Classic and I expect the same names to be up there. Valverde and Dan Martin and Albasini they are in really good shape.”

Kwiatkowski though sees himself as one of those favourites too.

“I performed well in Amstel and Flèche and I see myself as someone in good shape to have a good race. When I stand on the pedals there is a group of guys going to try and follow me.”

Victory at Strade Bianche preceded his first Monument win at Milan-San Remo in the middle of March and should he manage to win this weekend, he will be the first rider since Eddy Merckx in 1975 to win both Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Milan-San Remo in the same year.