sobota, 20 kwietnia 2013

Polish riders: Current situation

This is my first real entry so it's going to be a little long. There are a lot of Polish riders in pro peleton, so I just want to give you a short insight into their plans and current situation. This way it will be much easier for you to follow the updates in the following months. As I said, there a lot of things I work on, so no time to lose, here we go.

I'd like to start with Przemysław Niemiec (Lampre-Merida). He's doing really well this year - 9th in Tirreno-Adriatico (with 8th place on the stage to Chieti), 7th in Volta a Catalunya (8th place on Vallter 2000) and now 6th in Giro del Trentino, after a tremendous amount of work during the last stage and Sega di Ala climb. Remember, he is riding for a WT team for a second year only.

Niemiec doesn't fancy changes of rhythm, prefers riding his own tempo - just like he did in Vuelta a Espana 2012 (15th place). He likes Trentino - in 2009, riding for Miche, he placed 3rd and won a stage. When we exchanged messages yesterday, after the race, he was satisfied with his performance:

"The last stage was really good for me, the whole team supported me and I think I did very well. The final climb was really hard. I've been just keeping my own rhythm and trying not to lose too much time. 3rd place during such a tough stage, with so many good riders here, I think it's a very good result."

33-year-old had been training on the slopes of Etna earlier this month and made it clear that participation in Giro del Trentino will be a final test for him before Giro d'Italia, where his objective is to help Michele Scarponi and (perhaps) look for opportunities for himself.

I also asked him about Wiggins, as he as riding along him for some time in the final of stage 4. "Wiggins was unlucky, had problems with his chain but is in a good shape and will be very strong during Giro." And Scarponi? "Michele wasn't pushing hard on the last stage because he wants to make a good result in Liege-Bastogne-Liege".

Bartosz Huzarski

Huzarski (Team NetApp-Endura) is currently trying to find the right gear for this season. The spring wasn't successful but during Trentino there have been signs that indicate that it's all going in a good direction. He is satisfied with the result in the TTT - claims that they did very very well (4th place). He has also been a part of a breakaway during stage 4 and was the last man standing, being caught at the very begining of Sega di Ala. He now concentrates on the upcoming races - Rund um den Finanzplatz Eschborn-Frankfurt and Tour of California.

Sylwester Szmyd

Polish most experienced rider Sylwester Szmyd (Movistar) is preparing for Tour de France. Polish climber hasn't had a great season so far and earlier this year admitted that not everything is going as planned. Being an experienced rider, he also said that "the form is like good wine - it requires time, has to ripen". But after Vuelta a Castilla y Leon (when Movistar's Ruben Plaza managed to secure the 1st place in the GC) Szmyd looked a little more satisfied and is now expecting to do better in Tour de Romandie.

"Valverde is riding... but we won't be interrupting each other" - Szmyd wrote on his website recently.

Rafał Majka

Tour de Romandie will be the 2nd start for Rafał Majka (Team Saxo-Tinkoff) this year. 23-year-old Polish climber stuggled with knee problems at the begining of the season (the same injury unabled him to start Giro d'Italia last year) and competed only in Volta Ciclista a Catalunya. Fortunately, everything seems to be ok now, the problem is over and Rafał resumed trainings some time ago. He spent 17 days on the altitude, training near Mount Etna, Sicily. He's riding Romandie and Giro - first one to do some training and catch some racing rhythm. Giro d'Italia? Who knows? Rafał says that his legs will be doing best after the first week  - when he gets used to racing intensity. Let's hope so - there is no clear leader in Saxo-Tinkoff team and if you followed Vuelta 2012 closely, you may have the idea how strong Rafał can be.

(Not sure you heard it, the story is a little old but when Majka signed his 1st contract with Saxo-Tinkoff, the rumours were saying that he impressed Riis with his ride during winter camp. What exactly happened? I don't know, rumours say that Alberto Contador was unable to drop him on a climb. The other version: Majka dropped Contador on a climb).

Karol Domagalski

Domagalski (Caja Rural) is a tall, humble and nice guy from Skała (near Kraków), who is riding for Caja Rural-Seguros RGA for the second year. He's still learning and gaining experience - not only by attacking and trying to get to the finish before the bunch, helping his teammates on the finish but also by making mistakes and facing the lack of luck. What is important, he's made a progress, rides better than last year and still wants to improve.

His next race is Tour of Turkey and I'm sure he'll be riding with panache, trying to get himself a stage win. So, if there is a breakaway on the road,  he's likely to be there. Good luck, wining as stage as a pro will surely be good for him and his future development.

Finally, there has been a lot of writing about Michał Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) recently, so I'm not going to quote his team's website or translate my articles on him. He's been very consistent for the last couple of weeks, he is looking forward to riding Liege-Bastogne-Liege and wants to do his best there.

Perhaps you've heard that but when I talked to him before Fleche Wallonne, he said that Liege is more important, the final is more suited for him. He also stated that he'll ride Waalse Pilj as a preparation and will see about his disposition during the race. Apparently he had the legs - 5th place speaks for itself. So I just hope he stays cool and will be looking for an opportunity on Sunday.

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