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"I was trying to hang on there, but I just couldn't accelerate like they did. For the moment I'm not climbing the way I want to, but today it didn't matter. I set my own tempo until the top," Kwiatkowski says

Photo: Sirotti

JAN BAKELANTS

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MICHAL KWIATKOWSKI

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SOUDAL - QUICK STEP

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TOUR DE FRANCE

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22.07.2014 @ 21:31 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Michal Kwiatkowski made it into the breakaway in today's hard stage of the Tour de France but again the Pole faded on the final climb and could only manage 7th. Despite having moved back into the top 10 overall, he is disappointed with the way he is climbing at the moment.

 

Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team wasted no time getting into the action of the Pyrenees stages. Jan Bakelants and Michal Kwiatkowski finally entered a 21-rider escape group of Tour de France Stage 16 on Tuesday, which went away after about 75km. Kwiatkowski and OPQS worked tirelessly to make sure at least one rider made the day's escape group. 

 

By 78.2km into the longest stage of the Tour, the big group had a 1'05" advantage. But the advantage eventually ballooned to more than 10 minutes. With 38.5km to go in the stage the gap of the 21 riders including Baki and Kwiato was as high as 12'39" But the breakaway broke apart on HC Port de Bales (11.7km, 7.7%) which had a summit at the 216km mark of 237.5 kilometers.

 

Kwiatkowski and Bakelants were unable to maintain contact while Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo) eventually attacked what was left of the escape group to win the stage.Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) was 2nd out of the group that he dropped. Vasili Kiryienka (Team Sky) was 3rd. Kwiatkowski finished 7th, just 36" back as he worked hard on the descent of the HC climb to try and catch back on. Bakelants finished 11th (+3'33").

 

Kwiatkowski moved up to 9th in the GC with his hard work. 

 

OPQS looks next to 124.5km Stage 17. The distance is deceiving, as there are three consecutive Cat. 1 ascents and an HC summit finish.

"The whole team was in all of the early actions trying to make the breakaway," Kwiatkowski said. "We were very motivated for that. It was decided this morning that today was the biggest possibility for the breakaway.

 

"The GC guys could gain or lose time at the end, and we saw it. They lost it at the end, as it was not easy to control for 240 kilometers. We tried to take advantage of that.

 

"I was in three breakaways and I finally made it into the one that stuck. Thanks to Mark Renshaw who led me out to get there. We were like 12 riders at that point, Garmin-Sharp was trying to split the peloton at the time. Then Baki went across on the second climb of the day, the 4th category climb. From that moment it was much easier to be in the breakaway. Everyone worked well."

Kwiatkowski and Bakelants also had crucial support in the team car. 

 

"We had Davide Bramati in the team car with Mark Cavendish," Kwiatkowski said. "Cav told me to try to smash it and win a stage. It was nice to have them in the car.

 

"Then on a HC climb of 12 kilometers for sure it would come down to simply the strongest guy winning, and I have to congratulate Rogers for being that guy today.

 

"I was trying to hang on there, but I just couldn't accelerate like they did. For the moment I'm not climbing the way I want to, but today it didn't matter. I set my own tempo until the top and I was trying to catch the front group on the last descent. I almost made it, but that's bike racing.

 

"They were pushing hard. Baki and I tried our best today and we have to be satisfied that we gave 100 percent. This is where I am discovering myself, in a long breakaway and a tough climb after a lot of kilometers. It's important experience I need and I still have high morale.

 

"As for tomorrow, it will be difficult for sure. We all can feel two weeks of the Tour in our legs, but the Pyrenees are very hard,. After 200 kilometers in the breakaway I will feel it in my own legs, but I will do my best and see where I can arrive."

"We had a big breakaway of 21 riders, the cooperation was good," Bakelants said. "It was clear the winner would come from that breakaway. Everyone did their share and as long as everyone does their job I don't mind doing my share of the work.

 

"In the end it would come down to the climb of Port de Bales. I missed the legs in a specific moment. In the beginning I felt good. I was on the wheel of Kiryienka who made a very strong rhythm. But I faded. It was a shame because I directly felt it would be over for me. I exploded completely.

 

"But, I know this is the way I can win races. I am good enough in the start to get into the good breakaways. But today was not the day for me to take advantage of that. I'm disappointed but know there can be more chances in the next days."

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