We invite you to read our interview with the former world champion Michał Kwiatkowski (Team Sky), with whom we caught up during the Team Sky training camp in Mallorca.
How was the 2016 season for you?
The 2016 season was a difficult one for me. I`ve learned from my mistakes, though. I’ve changed my approach to pre-season training. Last year, I wanted to win in my first races of the season, but it wasn`t a smart decision. Now, I`m focusing on my goals. It`s all about building a peak form for the most important races, not for Challenge Mallorca and other early-season events.
I have a different race calendar than last year. I won`t participate in Challenge Mallorca. My first race is going to be Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. Then I will participate in the Volta ao Algarve, Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo and Vuelta al Pais Vasco. In the first part of the season, the most important races for me will be the Ardennes Classics.
Did you pay for the change of a team?
I think everyone has to pay for such changes. I’ve learnt a lot from the difficult moments I’ve been through and I hope it will pay off in the future. But I`m not paranoid about my skills. Such difficult moments happen to everyone.
What were the reasons for your mistakes?
When you are wining, it’s sometimes easy to forget that you are only a human being. It felt good to be in a very good shape in January, but consequences for my body and for my physical condition were inevitable.
And what about your mental condition?
Mental strength is very important for every athlete. When you want to win races, you need good legs and a strong head as well. For example, in encounters with Sagan, the mental strength always turns out to be a key factor. Reserves of additional strength locked in one’s mind give the same boost as a proper diet and training.
Do Team Sky has a person who helps you in working on your mental strength?
Yes, at Team Sky we have a psychologist at our disposal. But I think that the best psychologists are our wives, girlfriends and families. My last-season problems were solved within the team. We`re talking to each other a lot and nobody is left without help.
What is your shape in comparison to January 2016?
First of all I`m three kilos heavier than last year and my shape is worse than in January 2016, but it isn`t wrong. Everything seems to be going in the right direction.
Are you going to participate in the World Championships in Norway?
Yes, I`m going to participate in the Worlds, but at the same time I don`t want to make plans for such a distant future, especially without being sure whether I’ll have enough time to do a route reconnaissance.
Are you going to ride the Tour de France?
Yes, my plan is to ride the Tour, but it`s only the plan. In 2016 I didn`t make it to the Team Sky roster for the Tour despite early predictions regarding my participation. We will see what the future brings.
What do you think about Bradley Wiggins` therapeutic use exemptions shortly before his major grand tours, 2011 and 2012 Tour de France and Giro d`Italia 2013, and controversies over the ‘jiffy-bag’?
I know nothing about the ‘jiffy-bag’. I think it drives mainly media attention. But in Wiggins` case, I don`t understand why we`re talking only about him. There seems to be lack of transparency in TUE system, so we shouldn`t talk only about Wiggins.
Do you agree with Chris Froome, who calls for more strict and more transparent regulations on TUEs in cycling?
Yes, I agree with Chris, definitely. Now, we`re collecting information from Russian hackers and that`s completely inappropriate. If the leak causes controversies, TUE system has to be transparent.
Have you ever considered being granted TUE?
No, because I`ve never suffered from health issues which would entitle me to be granted a TUE.
In your Copernicus Academy there are a lot of talented young cyclists riding in junior category. Poland suffers from lack of U-23 teams. Are you going to help them?
In Polish cycling there is still a lot to do in terms of U-23 category. We need a national team, because without a national team cycling clubs have no incentive to exist. The right to start in races for U-23, such as Liege-Bastogne-Liege or Tour de l`Avenir, is only granted to cyclists riding for national teams. We also need funds for training camps, races etc. In Academy we`re concentrating on development of kids and youth. We are not going to create U-23 team, but if only there’s a way I could help, I will do that.
What kind of help could you offer to these young riders?
In regards to young talents riding for the Academy, I can guarantee them securing a contract with either Polish or foreign professional team. But the Polish Cycling Federation has a lot to do in terms of U-23 category.
What do you think about the new President of the Polish Cycling Federation?
Dariusz Banaszek is a very ambitious person and puts his heart and soul into cycling. I think that is the most important thing. It`s promising that he has received a lot of support from people involved in Polish cycling. A lot has been done in recent years but there is still much more to do.
Is it possible for you to be granted a leadership role in the World Tour race?
I would like to be a team leader in many races, but right now I’m not thinking about it. It would be great to stay healthy, complete a grand tour and win races. I would like to derive joy from cycling and that’s the most important thing for me at the moment.
Thanks for the interview.
The interview was held on 10th January 2017 in Mallorca.
Marta Wiśniewska/Marek Bala/Ela Kowalska (onet.pl)
Translation – Marta Wiśniewska/Aleksandra Górska