But the Tour de France is in the here and now, and as the former world champion says Cyclismenews, it is not the easiest of races for Ineos Grenadiers. But while they definitely wanted more, the experienced Grand Tour rider said they would finish the race with their heads held high.Tour circumstances changed dramatically for Ineos Grenadiers in the first week, with injuries and loss of time due to their competitors’ crashes early in the race leaving the team abruptly to focus four to one.
This created what from the outside looked like a ‘Back to the future’ scenario for the team. Much like Marty and Doc in the film, the riders of Ineos Grenadiers had to dive deep into the back of their DeLorean glove boxes for their previous Grand Tour strategy manuals, dating back to when Ineos was Sky and the approach of the team centered on the propulsion of a solitary GC. leader in the best possible position for an attack.
“We came up with the mentality of using guys who could potentially be close to GC – Richie [Porte], Tao [Geoghegan Hart], Richard [Carapaz] and G [Geraint Thomas], to fight against the favorites, which was obviously [Tadej] Pogacar [UAE Team Emirates] “Said Kwiatkowski Cyclismenews before step 19.
“But because of the accidents, we couldn’t follow this plan. Everything was focused on Richard. We couldn’t use the strength of the team to put pressure on others by just attacking with the other guys in GC, we had to put pressure like the old-fashioned Sky and wait for them. [the opposition] to crack.
“We did it for a few guys [opponents] more [race leader] Pogacar was unbreakable. So we’re proud of what we’ve accomplished, but we’ve always wanted more. “
However, Kwiatkowski said, the idea of beating Pogačar just never became applicable. The passage of time and temperature from cold to warm in the second week, which they said could reveal a flaw in his armor, had no effect. The team’s strategy therefore remained the same, but according to the Pole their approach shifted towards maintaining the other rivals for second and third places.
“As he played in an incredible way at eight degrees [Celsius] and it was raining, we thought that maybe 35 degrees on the Ventoux would not suit him. So we hoped he would crack a lot. But that did not happen.
“We got rid of the other podium contenders, and it wasn’t easy. Some scenarios, with Guillaume Martin [Cofidis] et Ben O’Connor [AG2R-Citroën] enter the fight against the GC, were not ideal. And there were always guys in the overall standings who were a threat to Richard in the time trials.
As it stands, these objectives being met, Carapaz is in line for a third place overall in Paris. “I hope Richard has a good start in TT, but he has a better gap anyway [on fourth] he is therefore well placed for the podium.
As a versatile rider with classics, weeklong stage races, a lead on the Grand Tour in the Vuelta a España and even an Alpine Tour stage on his track record, Kwiatkowski says he has found his services sought in almost all the different scenarios of the Tour for Ineos. Grenadiers.
“The Tour gets more and more difficult every year and from my point of view there is nothing like a day off or ‘this day’ is not for you. ”
But he felt he hadn’t had “such a bad end of the third week.”
“Since the arrival at Luz Ardiden, the last key moment for the GC guys, my Tour is over. I’m thinking about how to recover and prepare to deal with time zones, jet lag, etc.
Poland’s success at the last Olympics in 2016, winning bronze with Rafal Majka (UAE Team Emirates), is the best kind of benchmark. On the other hand, there are only three riders in the Polish team, unlike the four in Rio: himself, Majka and Polish national TT champion Maciej Bodnar (Bora-Hansgrohe), who also participates in the counter-la -shows.
So what? Kwiatkowski is planning to do the Tour of Poland, which is, as he says, “close in time and that is also close to my heart. But I can’t promise, I don’t want to go to Poland and not play, the expectations are high and I have experienced this in the past. But if I feel good, I’ll be there.
The Olympics, however, are even closer and this is his first goal after the Tour. “I am super motivated and the condition is there. We don’t have as many drivers as the others but Rafal is clearly in good shape. Hopefully we will get a good result to take home.