Michal Kwiatkowski believes Team Sky’s strength in numbers will be crucial in Sunday’s Tour of Flanders.
Kwiatkowski - who hasn’t raced on the cobbles since 2016 - is excited about tackling the Ronde van Vlaanderen again and believes the team has a number of cards to play.
Gianni Moscon was the team’s highest placed finisher in 2017, Dylan van Baarle finished fourth last year, Luke Rowe has a fifth placed finish on his palmares and Ian Stannard is a veteran of eight Tours of Flanders.
“The strength is in the team,” opined Kwiatkowski. “We want to be there to make the best race possible and the strength is in the numbers. Sometimes you have to put your ego in your pocket and think about how to race by using all our cards. If everyone really commits to that we’ve got a chance to go for the win.
“I won’t look at any name or any guy in the bunch. We have to make our own race. Make the right calls, the right decision in the right moment and not wait for the attacks of this guy, or that guy. We can’t do it. We have to do our own race and that’s the most important thing. Whoever is there, it doesn’t really matter.”
It’s an amazing race to be at.
After skipping the cobbles in 2017 to focus on the Ardennes the Pole is pleased he’s found space in his programme this year to return to Flanders. The last time he tackled the Cobbled Classics he won E3 Harelbeke in 2016 before animating De Ronde a week later.
“I’m always excited about racing in Belgium,” he continued. “I know how huge this race is and I’m so happy that I could put De Ronde into my race calendar.
“When you think about racing in Flanders or Belgium you’re thinking about De Ronde. I’m really happy to be here at the start. I know how many people will be there, and how many people will be there on the circuit, on the Kwaremont and those climbs. It’s an amazing race to be at.”
Kwiatkowski has enjoyed a fine season so far, winning the Volta ao Algarve and Tirreno-Adriatico. He has been keeping an eye on the Classics back home as he put the finishing touches to his Ardennes preparation.
“I was watching the races. I’d start training quite early to see the finals and there were no regrets that I wasn’t here! It was the best decision to skip those races because they looked really tough, and that was some hard racing from which I’d probably never recover for the Ardennes.
“They looked like good fun. I never took a nap, which sometimes after being out training for four, five, six hours, the time those races finish is perfect for a nap but I couldn’t! It was exciting racing.”
With no clear favourite emerging from the early-season Classics, Kwiatkowski believes a number of big name riders will be in contention for the win.
“Every race is different, every year is different, but maybe you can’t name one guy as the main favourite. But there are plenty of strong guys and it will be no surprise if they win the race.
“If you make the right move and you have your day, it could be your day.”