Michal Kwiatkowski (27) was there last year in the Tour of Flanders. The Pool focused after his victory in Milan-Sanremo, the Ardennes classics. This year he is again, but without any preparation on the Flemish roads. “The great purpose of his re-Ardennes races,” he said, “but that does not mean that I am good for the day.”
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Many of the results can be the world champion of Ponferrada 2014 not present in the Round. In 2011 he finished he is not on his debut, in 2013, he was 40, and in 2016, he had to settle with a 27th place. However, won the 27-year-old leader of Team Sky, in 2016, the E3 Harelbeke and he was then one of the favorites for the Round. Now he has, as yet, no price on cobblestones in the legs.
“Or that is a disadvantage? I don’t know”, he told a press conference in the D-hotel in Kortrijk. “Today I have 80 miles on it trail ridden, and after the Tour of the Algarve I was already 120 miles to explore. I know now already what is waiting for me. I have a lot of training over the last few weeks with the eye on the Ardennes classics, my biggest goal this spring. On race days I left in what used to be the voorjaarskoersen to be able to watch it on tv and to be honest: I’m glad I was in Menton (near Nice) stayed and got trained. The weather was good and when I go to those rates looked, hard and in bad conditions. No, this was the right choice.”
“I slide myself forward as a great leader”
The Pool is again on a roll this season with two stage wins and the overall victory in the Tour of the Algarve and the classification in the Tirreno-Adriatico. He belongs to the favorites for the Tour of Flanders? “No, I don’t think so,” was the honest, “I slide myself to the front as the main leader. You need your ego here on the side and as a team quotes. We have with Team Sky, our strength in the width, finish: Stannard, Gianni Moscon, Dylan van Baarle and myself. A bit like Quick-Step Floors that always do: not to focus on one leader, but several trump cards to play. And also not to wait, but chart your own course to ride as a team. I am happy that I am there again this year, I am in the Tour of Flanders after my absence last year. It is always nice to be here racing, the atmosphere. Often to riders asked what price they’ve ever been in their careers want to win and the answer is: the Round. Well, to me it is no different.”
There is currently not one rider really stood out. “True,” assented the Pole, “all I would five stars to Quick-Step Floors as a team. They are really strong and have a lot of matches won over the last few weeks. Impressive. There are many highlights of the Tour can win. In the Round comes, there’s always a little luck involved. The winner will anyway be someone who is the strongest, and that is not as much of a surprise to come outside.”
Also Kwiatkowski traveling, just like Vincenzo Nibali to the Tour of the Basque country Sunday night.
Gianni Moscon: “the Collective strength to play”
Gianni Moscon is with his 23 years old is still very young, but can have some credentials to present. Last year he was fifth in his second participation in Paris-Roubaix and 15th in the Tour of Flanders. “I especially want to still learn a lot,” said the Italian rider of Team Sky.
In the past matches fought Moscon every time you in front, but without much success. Eighth in Harelbeke, twelfth in Dwars door Vlaanderen. “It is not easy in these courses”, he put out Friday from the shore. “Now follows the Round, a contest that is even longer than the other races and I hope good for the day to come. We need our strength as a team to play.”
Dylan van Baarle: “Use the strength of our block”
That also told teammate Dylan van Baarle (25) which last year was fourth in the Tour of Flanders and, in 2016, a sixth place finish left again. In the meantime, he changed Cannondale to Team Sky and he is part of the British sterrendelegatie.
“Michal (Kwiatkowski) is, according to me our great leader,” said the Dutchman, “he puts out there is just that little bit beyond that, has already proven that he is great prices to win. Then we with a number of riders of the Sky matched. We must use the strength of our block. Last year was my team’s so strong not, we are now with Sky and that is just an asset that we need to play. I was last year fourth, and for me that was a great surprise and even better than my sixth place the year before. But to win, you have to just need something more. Happiness certainly and I do for the Round is certainly not the leader. We have Michal, and still various riders that are in the finals for sure their man can stand.”