Try and learn Michal Kwiatkowski’s name

It’s not an easy one, but he’s a rider of growing importance so you might as well make the effort. I know, no-one likes effort, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. At least it’s only hearing sounds in your mind’s ear and not actual physical effort, like having to go to the cash machine or something like that.

Michael Kwikfitski

No, not good enough. It’s Michal Kwiatkowski. He won Strade Bianche today and was best young rider in last year’s Tour. Tough one-day races and Grand Tours? He can do anything, it seems, and therefore deserves correct nomenclature. He’s only 23 as well. He’s going to be around for a while.

How did he win Strade Bianche?

It was a real survival-of-the-fittest race with two big moments. The first came with around 21km to go. The front group was down to 20-odd riders when Peter Sagan put in a thudding attack from deep in the group, sprinting past the line of riders as if they were bollards. Only one rider could follow him – Kwiatkowski. Frighteningly, he positively breezed across the gap. None of the other riders had anything, but Kwiatkowski responded with insouciance.

After that, he and Sagan worked together to build up a gap of about a minute and it stayed at about that until the final kilometre, at which point they started racing each other. This was the second big moment.

Strade Bianche finishes with a very steep climb into Siena. Sagan had a bit of a go on it, but those big muscles had already drawn all the fuel. Sometimes, at the end of a long ride, your cruising speed isn’t so far removed from your top speed. After a few seconds of effort, he faded, at which point Kwiatkowski highlighted the fact that he was still capable of accelerating and simply rode away from him. You can see how it played out here.

It was pretty damn impressive. That name again: Michal Kwiatkowski.

What’s next?

Sunday brings another Italian one-day race – Roma Maxima – and also the first day of Paris-Nice. Tirreno-Adriatico starts on Wednesday.

Chris Froome has got a bad back, so he’s withdrawn from Tirreno-Adriatico and Sky have switched Richie Porte to that race instead of Paris-Nice, even though he’s reigning champion of the latter. The Paris-Nice organisers are pissed off about it, but I’m quite pleased because it means Geraint Thomas can be team leader. Thomas was all but leaving Porte for dead while supposedly looking after him in the Tour of Andalucia a couple of weeks ago.