Kwiatkowski Wins World Road Race Championship

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09/29/2014| 0 comments
by Gerald Churchill
Fotoreporter Sirotti

Kwiatkowski Wins World Road Race Championship

Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland) is the first Pole to win the world road race championship.

Watch UCI Road World Championships video highlights in our videos section (viewable from within the USA)

Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland) is the first Pole to win the world road race championship. Kwiatkowski surged away from the lead group on the day’s last climb to win the hilly, 254.8-km ride in and around Ponferrada, Spain in 6:29:07. Simon Gerrans (Australia) outsprinted Alejandro Valverde (Spain) for the silver medal at 0:01.

Rain and fog greeted the riders at the start. On the first of 14 18.2-km laps, Carlos Quintero (Colombia), Matija Kvasina (Croatia), Zydrunas Savickas (Lithuania), and Oleksandr Polivoda (Ukraine) got clear. By the end of the fourth lap, the quartet’s lead had ballooned to more than 15 minutes. Behind, a crash took down Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) and Ramunas Navardauskas (Lithuania), but both remounted and rejoined the peloton.

Poland gave an early indication of intent when its riders went to the front to lead the chase. Eventually, the Australians joined them at the front, and at the end of eight laps, the escapees’ advantage was down to 11 minutes. The rain ended, and the sun began to shine.

With 100 km left, the break led the bunch by 8:20. Spain and Great Britain joined the Poles at the front, and the pursuit’s pace picked up. With four laps remaining, the fugitives’ lead was down to two minutes.

The Italians and the Belgians took over at the front. With 67 km left, Fabio Aru and Giovanni Visconti (both from Italy), Christopher Juul Jensen (Denmark), Michael Albasini (Switzerland), Peter Kennaugh (Great Britain), and Tim Wellens (Belgium) jumped clear. Behind, a chase group consisting of Valverde, Nicolas Roche (Ireland), and others formed. Kennaugh attacked again and took Visconti and Juul Jensen with him. The combustion snuffed out the early break.

A leading group of 12 formed. The 12 were Kennaugh, Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway), Gianpaolo Caruso (Italy), Albasini, Wellens, Rein Taaramae (Estonia), Simon Geschke and Tony Martin (both from Germany), Daniel Navarro (Spain), Yury Trofimov (Russia), and Sep Vanmarcke (Belgium), Behind, Australia led the pursuit at 0:22.

On the descent of the Mirador climb, Martin dropped his companions. With three laps remaining, the German led the chase group by 0:08 and the Australia-led peloton by 0:30.

On the Confederacion climb, Martin’s lead over the chase group had grown to 0:25. The Kennaugh-Vanmarcke group reeled in Martin at the summit of the Mirador. Behind, France took over at the front, and the bunch trailed the break by 0:29 with two laps to go.

Kennaugh and Visconti tried another attack that was reeled in on the Confederacion. Alessandro De Marchi (Italy), Cyril Gautier (France), and Michael Valgren Anderson (Denmark) countered, and Vasil Kiriyienka (Belarus) joined the trio. At the beginning of the last lap, the escapees led the field by 0:44.

Spain took command and led the chase. With 15 km remaining, the gap had narrowed to 0:19. Belgium took over from Spain, but Kwiatkowski attacked on the approach to the final ascent of the Mirador. The Pole caught the break, dropped it, and kept on going.

As is often the case, a concerted chase might have caught the escapee. Such was not forthcoming, however. Spain, Denmark, and Belgium argued over who should chase. While they argued, Kwiatkowski rode. Finally, Rodriguez attacked and blew the peloton apart. Valverde, Gerrans, Philippe Gilbert and Greg Van Avermaet (both from Belgium), Matti Breschel (Denmark), and Tony Gallopin (France) set out after the fleeing Pole.  

Gilbert and Valverde did much of the work, but the chasers could not close the gap. Kwiatkowski had plenty of time to celebrate, so much time that he freewheeled over the last few couple hundred meters and allowed the Gerrans-Valverde group to close to within 0:01 of him. As he crossed the finish line, he kissed his Polish team jersey.

Kwiatkowski dedicated his victory to his teammates, his girlfriend, and his country. "Our team did incredible work today," Kwiatkowski said of his Polish teammates. "We just tried to control the bunch the whole day. I was in the front and I didn't plan to attack on the second-to-last descent. But I saw the opportunity to be in the group in front, which had five riders at that point before the last climb. I caught them and could relax a bit, and control my effort on the last climb. Even a small advantage on the last climb can be difficult to chase down a rider like me from there. I saw it was possible from the Under-23 race before, that it's possible to make it. I'm not the best sprinter compared to guys like Simon Gerrans and Alejandro Valverde, but in the end it worked and it is an incredible feeling. I think for Polish cycling this is really important to have a beautiful victory like this. This season has been amazing for Poland with Rafal Majka and his performance at the Tour de France for example. Now I have this rainbow jersey, and it's an amazing feeling. I told the guys at a meeting yesterday that I felt great and I said it again at the start of the race. I really needed support from them and they did it all the time. I felt relaxed all day. With these weather conditions it was important to stay in front. This made it much easier for me to have such great help from my teammates. It kept me comfortable and gave me big energy at the end. I have to thank them, and I have to also dedicate this to my girlfriend Agata and the Polish nation as they give me such big morale, and I am so proud to give this back to them."

If Kwiatkowski knows the thrill of striking gold, Gerrans knows the bittersweetness of a silver medal. “Happy with the result, but at the same time just slightly disappointed," Gerrans said. “I raced a good race, I had fantastic support from Aussie teammates as usual. I can’t thank them enough.

“When Michal [Kwiatkowski] went over the top with the advantage he did, we knew that it would be very difficult to catch him. And then with a kilometer to go, we knew we were chasing for the minor placings.”

Many of the riders in today’s race will cross paths in next week’s Giro di Lombardia, the final classic of the 2014 season. Will Kwiatkowski begin his world championship year there? If so, how will he and his competition fare? For the answers to these questions and others, check in at and find out!

Watch UCI Road World Championships video highlights in our videos section (viewable from within the USA)

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