Place 21 - Michal Kwiatkowski
Type of Rider: All-rounder
Biggest Success: Stage win Tour of Slovakia
Team/Club 2010: Caja Rujal
Team 2011: Radio Shack
Best Mock List Ranking: new
Polish riders don’t make it onto the Mock List very often. In the very first list of 2004 we had Blazej Janiaczyk, last year Jaroslaw Marycz reached rank 32. This year we have - besides European Champion Gawronski - even another Polish rider on the list. Like Marycz – following an Eastern European trend of the last decade – Kwiatkowski tried his luck in the Under 23 category outside of Poland, in Spain.
To find an Under 23 team wasn’t any problem, because there may be a lot of good Juniors, but not many superstars. Kwiatkowski was such a Super-Junior – and he shares his year of birth with two other Super-Juniors, Peter Sagan and Taylor Phinney.
As early as 2007, in his first Junior year, the Pole won 7 races, amongst them the European Championships, where he also gained silver in the time-trial. In the year after that, he even won 11 international races, and those were the biggest: the Trofeo Karlsberg, the European Championships in the time-trial and also the World Championships in this domain. This lead to the win in the Junior’s World Cup consequently.
The other exceptional talents Sagan and Phinney made it onto the Mock List in their first Under 23 year, which Kwiatkowski failed to, but only narrowly so, in 2009. His season was good for a first year rider, but not overwhelming. Instead of joining a big talent team he chose a small elite team, Polish MG Kvis-Norda Pacific where he was teammate of aforementioned Gawronski and his three years older, but rather not-so talented, brother Radoslaw. This small team was a surprise, because Rabobank CT was also said to be interested. Also, at the end of 2008 it was wrongly announced that he had joined pro-team Amica as a Neo-Pro. Furthermore he allegedly had signed for continental team Nippo-Endeka.
With winning the Polish Under 23 championships Kwiatkowski added to his collection of jerseys. Apart from that, he was 7th at the hilly Giro del Mendrisiotto (1.2) among pro-riders, at the GP della Liberazione (1.2U) he sprinted to 4th place and at the second stage of the Tour of Slovakia he left all others, including Roger Kluge, behind in a mass-sprint to get his first pro-win.
The then 19-year-old was nominated for the World Championships by the Polish federation, but wasn't successful.
This year Kwiatkowski joined Spanish team Caja Rujal. Also here there was some confusion before signing the contract. First it seemed that Quick-Step had signed him, then Caisse d’Epargne. Finally it was a precontract with Caisse and another year on the Under 23 level.
With Caja Rujal the 20 year-old had the chance to take part in bigger races, for example he sprinted to 7th place at the Vuelta a Castilla Leon (2.1) on the first stage which was won by Theo Bos. At the hilly GP Llodio (1.1), won by Angel Vicioso, he missed the breakaway group, but placed 2nd in the sprint for 9th place, finishing 10th.
His strongest performances came at his homeland Szlakiem Grodow Piastowskich, where not only he showed class, but proved to be a true all-rounder. 8th on the first stage, 7th on the quite tough stage 2, on stage 3, a time-trial that was won by Lukasz Bodnar, he finished 3rd, in the overall classification the young Pole finished 4th. So he was always among the best, but never the best. This is the curse of the all-rounder, and Kwiatkowski is in danger of maybe not being able to break this spell and having to work as a helper at the pro-level.
Also his other results of the season weren’t bad at all. Only a few Under 23 riders this year can boast with a fifth place at the Volta Alentejo (2.1) with placing 7th overall. That his form is on the raise again was seen at the Tour de l’Avenir recently. There he finished 3rd in a sprint behind Degenkolb and Matthews, this being his best result of the race.
Because Caisse will change its name to Movistar next year this will be Kwiatkowski's first pro-team. At the World Championships he mustn’t be overlooked. Although his time-trial at the Tour de l’Avenir was weak he may be a dark horse. The course of the road-race suits him, too. Even tough for each kind of race there exists a rider who normally will beat him. Nevertheless an explosion - and in the future a top status among the Pros - is possible. Sagan and Phinney developed faster than the Pole, but his talent is there. And talent comes to the top automatically most of the times. And sometimes quicker than you think.
nominated by wagenge, ogkempf & chreezer, written by ogkempf, translated by bugno