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peloton / OPQS / Yuzuru Sunada
Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling rider Michal Kwiatkowski waited for the perfect moment at the Italian Classic, 197 km Strade Bianche, on Saturday. Peter Sagan (Cannondale) launched an impressive attack with less than 23km to go, but with five OPQS riders well positioned and Kwiatkowsi feeling strong, he bridged to the attacking Slovak rider.
“When I came around the final corner to the finish line in Piazza del Campo, it was absolutely beautiful,” Kwiatkowski said. “I did recon yesterday of the finish in Siena, and it was amazing then as well. But with fans and spectators around, it’s even better. It’s something special. I know Sagan has much more experience on a final like that in the big races. I was watching even the chainring he was using to make sure I didn’t make any stupid mistakes. I was actually surprised speeding up on the last climb, he didn’t wait until the sprint. He started slowing down a little bit and I saw that he was really suffering. So I went full gas until the end and that’s how it was won. I’m pretty surprised as this is probably my best, most emotional victory so far. I had so much support from the team, from everyone. I’m really thankful to my team for the support today, I can’t say it enough.”
The two rode away from the field, despite a strong chasing group forming behind them including Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). Approaching the final few hundred meters, Kwiatkowski sat on Sagan’s wheel as the road grew steep. It was in that moment that the Polish Champion launched, dropping Sagan immediately on the final climb to win solo.
“I knew my performance was good, but I can’t be really happy when I come in second,” said Sagan. “I’m sure I did the right thing by attacking. At that moment, the race was in standby with many attacks and counterattacks. Contenders were waiting for my next move and studying my strategy so I wanted to stop the delay. The outcome was great, and Kwiatkowski was the strongest – congratulations to him.”
“Road races offer a one-shot chance to come in first. I know I can grow and improve my form before the Classics. Tirreno-Adriatico will be a great and useful race to strengthen and better my form. Today’s race made me confident, and I’m ready for the next.”
1. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol/Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) 5:20:33
2. Peter Sagan (Svk/Cannondale) @ :19
3. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa/Movistar) @ :36
4. Damiano Cunego (Ita/Lampre-Merida) @ :40
5. Roman Kreuziger (Cze/Tinkoff-Saxo) @ s.t.
6. Fabian Cancellara (Swi/Trek) @ :59
7. Cadel Evans (Aus/BMC) @ 1:42
8. Warren Barguil (Fra/Team Giant-Shimano) @ 2:01
9. Wout Poels (Ned/Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) @ 2:10
10. Simon Geschke (Ger/Team Giant-Shimano) @ 2:50