The Polish former world champion lost 2-04 minutes on Sunday, suffering from a crash two days earlier. However, with Chris Froome and Thomas away, he is using this as his opportunity to lead Team Sky in a Grand Tour.
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“No, it’s not the be or the not to be a GC rider,” Kwiatkowski told Cycling Weekly on the start line of stage 11.
He won the worlds in 2014, Milan-San Remo and week long stage races. Now, he and Sky are pushing toward the overall of Grand Tours.
“Of course, it’s the next step and in the future I will try to go for GC more in stage races. I will. I want to. It is something that drives me and doesn’t stop me from winning Classics.”
Kwiatkowski just came from the Tour de France a month a go, where he helped Thomas complete his transformation from track/Classics rider to Tour winner.
“Of course, Geraint Thomas is the best example,” added Kwiatkowski. “If you work hard and wait, you are patient, and you believe in what you are doing, and you can achieve that big goal. Sooner or later are able to achieve it, especially when you are in Team Sky. Which is the team that supports perfectly GC riders and aims mostly for GC in Grand Tours.”
Team Sky helped Bradley Wiggins to make the transformation and to give the Tour its first British winner. They developed Froome into Grand Tour winning machine, counting six so far, and now Thomas has one win under his belt.
Who will be next? Maybe Tao Geoghegan Hart, Egan Bernal or Pavel Sivakov could lead Sky to victory. For now, the team is working with someone who has more experience. Among Kwiatkowski’s palmarès are challenging week-long stage races like Tirreno-Adriatico and Tour of Poland, both from the 2018 season.
“It’s kind of a new path and challenge, but I don’t feel any pressure. I know what I’ve done this season. It’s not a milestone in my season,” he continued.
“I come here for the results of course and it’s important for me to bring success to the Team Sky. We had a great start even if not the best end to the first week, but there are still two weeks to go and we look forward to opportunities.”
Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) waited at the start line in the red jersey. He leads the race over a couple of Team Movistar riders, Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana. Kwiatkowski, who wears the white and red Polish national champion’s jersey, sits 15th overall at 2-10.
In the big mountains starting on Friday, his goal is to ride with the race’s best climbers again even if he still has some pain on his left side.
“I want to stay with the best climbers up in the front. I am still thinking of hanging out there because as I said before the race it’s a new experience to race the GC in a Grand Tour and a second Grand Tour in one year. It’s kind of development for the future.”