Michal Kwiatkowski enjoyed his most successful year as a professional rider in 2017 with Team Sky, but says he’ll do everything to try and top it despite admitting that it’ll be a ‘difficult’ challenge.
The Pole had a storming spring campaign last year, claiming victory in Strade Bianche before winning his first Monument at Milan-San Remo. He followed that up with podiums in the Ardennes; second place behind Philippe Gilbert at the Amstel Gold Race and third behind Alejandro Valverde and Dan Martin at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
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Kwiatkowski then put aside his own ambitions to help Chris Froome to a fourth Tour de France title, performing superbly as a super domestique throughout the three weeks. It was back to winning ways shortly after though, with victory in the prestigious Clásica San Sebastián in August.
The 27-year-old, who won the World Championships road race in 2014 before moving to Team Sky in 2016 from Quick-Step, says he’ll be looking for further improvement in the coming season and potentially adding further Monument titles to his palmarès. He’s set to begin his season at the end of this month with the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana in Spain.
“If you think about the next season then the first thing you are thinking about is improvements,” Kwiatkowski said.
“Of course it can be difficult to repeat the results I got in 2017, but of course I will be there to train harder, to race better, to race smarter.
“Let’s hope that will bring even more victories than I had. If you look at my race calendar for sure that’s going to be quite similar to the previous season. Of course in the first part I’d love to aim to win Liège-Bastogne-Liège – a race I still haven’t been able to win in my career. That’s going to be the first big goal. On top of that races like Strade Bianche and (Milan-) San Remo again.”
In his first year at Sky, Kwiatkowski showed immediate success with victory early in the season on the cobbles at E3 Harelbeke before going on with hopes of victory at the Tour of Flanders. His season began to decline from there though, and he showed poor form in his fleeting appearances through the summer and was unable to finish the Vuelta a España.
He said Sky didn’t give up on him despite his underwhelming start with the team, and thanks to his rejuvenation in 2017, is now plotting a return to the cobbled Classics and a potential top-spot in Flanders before potential back to back Grand Tour rides at the Tour and Vuelta.
“I hope in 2018 to be back on the cobbles, and Tour of Flanders is a race I hope I can race again,” Kwiatkowski said.
“That’s the first part of the year, and then there’s the Tour and I’d love to be back racing with Team Sky for the victory. I think a big change would be if I could put a second Grand Tour in a single season. So after the Tour let’s hope I can race the Vuelta and then prepare as best as I can for the World Champs in Austria.
“I was just missing cobbles,” he added.
“Classics for me are pure racing and Tour of Flanders is just an amazing race. I was able to race there before, even for Team Sky in 2016, the week before I won (E3) Harelbeke and I was one of the favourites for the win.
“I believe I have the ability to fight for the victory. “