Michal Kwiatkowski is one of the most promising athletes on the International cycling scene. Born in Toruń, Poland on June 2nd, 1990, Michal is now one of the talents contributing to the Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team.
We met up with Michal during the 2012 Giro d'Italia. Michal, how is the Giro d'Italia going for you? “All right for now. I’m in great shape and I’m pedaling well. For me this is an important challenge as I look forward to upcoming events, first and foremost the Tour de Pologne and the Olympics." Tour de Pologne: what do you think about the route? “I know the roads of the 2012 Tour de Pologne very well, even though they are far from my hometown of Toruń. I think it’s a beautiful route with interesting stages where things will be quite spectacular. There are a lot of climbs, so it will be important to start out in top form.” What are your goals? “I can’t deny that I’m dreaming of a good placing in the general classification. For a Polish racer this race is super important.” Is there a key stage? “When you race for the GC all the stages are important. It’s essential to stay in the thick of the race, to not get distracted and at the same time not waste precious energy, to save up for the final.” What is your first memory of the Tour de Pologne? “I was 12 or 13. Before the pro race there was a race for kids, the Mini Tour de Pologne. We were racing in Gdansk and for me to be there was a dream come true. I finished the race in second place, it was a thrill! The formula for the Mini Tour de Pologne is very interesting. I’m happy that now they are featuring it before each stage of the Tour. In Poland cycling is growing day by day and I think this is also thanks to the Mini Tour de Pologne, which lets kids experience something unforgettable, like it was for me. I also vividly remember the last time the Tour passed through Toruń. It was 2006 and I was there on the side of the road to try and collect as many water bottles from the international teams as I could. I remember the speed, the colors, and the sounds of the bikes as they sped past. Unforgettable moments.” So the Tour was important in your growth as a cyclist. “Definitely. I started pedaling when I was 10, following in the tracks of my brother, who was a few years older than me. A few of us were in a little Bike Club. From that day on I’ve covered many kilometers to arrive in the pro league, passing through the juniors and spending one year in the under 23 class. It was actually in the juniors where I achieved some good results at the international level, like the time trial World Championship and the road and time trial European Championship that carried me to the professional level quite quickly.” What’s the relationship that ties you to Lang and the Lang Team? “As a Polish rider I’m very proud of what they are doing to promote Poland and cycling in our country. Year after year the number of Poles in the pros is increasing and this is definitely due to the fact that the Tour de Pologne is becoming an increasingly international race. I also remember Lang quite fondly. Some years ago he invited me to the presentation for the race. I was still a junior. I was amazed by the invitation. I went and I had a fantastic day with lots of professional athletes in attendance: on that occasion Lang told me that he really believed in me and that sooner or later I would become an ambassador for Polish cycling in the world. Now I know what he was talking about.” What do you think of your season until now? “This year I wanted to get off to a strong start to do well in some of the races in the beginning of the season. At the Driedaagse van west Vlaanderen race I got my first taste of sweet victory. Then I fell in the last stage and I lost the leadership. Instead in the Driedaagse van De Panne I got sick and couldn’t race. On a mental level it was terrible. I had prepared well for that event. Then I rode in the classics trying to gain some experience for the future. Now I’m here at the Giro. Let’s try and do something good on the roads of Italy. Perhaps even to wear the white jersey for a few days would be nice.” On the Omega Pharma - Quick-Step team there’s also another Pole, Golas. "For me Michal is more than just a team mate, he’s a true friend I can really count on. He helps me rally when the going gets tough, he’s got a great spirit and he really motivates me. We train together, we come from the same town. It’s perfect. Then on the team there is also a Polish masseur, Marek Sawicki. We’re a little Polish colony in Belgium (laughs).” Typical last question. What is Michal Kwiatkowski dreaming of winning this season? “The dream is to be able to participate in the Olympics on behalf of my country and bring home some good results for Poland. To do that I have to already be strong at the Tour de Pologne, which at that point is my other objective. That month I’m going to have to ride really, really hard…”
Image courtesy of Team Omega Parma Quick Step