UCI World Championships - Florence 2013: This year Poland is allowed to choose 9 riders for the elite men road race. Polish Cycling Federation announced the names of the riders going to Florence yesterday - there are few suprises and a lot of questions without an answer.
Here is a short preview, full squads with my comment. I'm not writing all the results when talking about riders - you can easily find them all taking a look a at ProCyclingStats website.
Poland was ranked 8th among nations represented in World Tour racing in UCI nations ranking on August 15 and can take a 9-man squad to Florence. Such a high place is a result of achievements of only three riders - Rafał Majka (7th Giro d'Italia, 4th Tour de Pologne), Przemysław Niemiec (6th Giro d'Italia, top10 placings in Tirreno-Adriatico, Volta a Catalunya, Giro del Trentino) and Michał Kwiatkowski (4th T-A, 4th Amstel Gold Race, 5th Fleche Wallonne, 11th Tour de France).
Road race: Maciej Bodnar, Maciej Paterski (Cannondale), Michał Gołaś, Michał Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Rafał Majka (Team Saxo-Tinkoff), Tomasz Marczyński (Vacansoleil-DCM), Przemysław Niemiec (Lampre-Merida), Sylwester Szmyd (Movistar Team), Bartosz Huzarski (Team NetApp-Endura).
Time trial: Bodnar and Kwiatkowski.
Best Polish riders, probably the best line-up for this moment. All the best riders together in one team. Chance of scoring a decent result? Or too good to be true?
Originally I wanted to write that Kwiatkowski, Majka and Niemiec are feeling tired after the racing they did this year. Today it's not entirely true - as we saw yesterday in GP de Wallonie - "Kwiato" is in good shape and it's hard to predict anything. Like somebody once noted - his limits are yet to be determined and he doesn't know them himself.
Kwiatkowski is focusing on the time trials - he's been chosen as the last warrior of Omega Pharma-Quick Step and on Monday morning he'll ride off the ramp to defend the World Champion title with his teammates. Then, he wants to perform at the highest level in the individual time trial. The course is flat - if he's feeling well, he can possibly perform as good as he did during Tour de France. Road race? Michał wasn't sure about his role himself when we talked after le Tour and neither am I today.
Majka did Giro and Vuelta this year, taking respectively 7th and 19th place and may be a little tired after all this. Remember, he crashed during Tour de Pologne and hurt his leg - that didn't help him at all. Niemiec rode Giro, Tour de France and Tour de Pologne - his disposition remains unknown. They both know every piece of Fiesole - but that's not going to help much when you don't have the legs.
Szmyd and Marczyński are not in the perfect shape - Marczyński suffered from cold during Vuelta and was forced to withdraw. He's been struggling with cyst at the begining of the season, came back in May, then won mountains classification of Tour de Pologne but failed to peak during Vuelta. Szmyd was satisfied with his legs after Spanish Grand Tour and could play an important role with his experience, nevertheless the route is not suitable for him. Same goes for Bodnar - Polish time trial champion - his experience and power can prove helpful on such a long and demanding route of the road race.
Gołaś, Paterski and Huzarski. They are quite fresh, did only one Grand Tour this season and are performing strong but with no luck. Gołaś is doing well in the UK, he finished 5th on stage 2 of Tour of Britain, dealt with time trial and today he sprinted to 2nd in Caerphilly. Paterski fought in Eneco Tour, placing 3rd on stage 6. Huzarski rode Vuelta, marking his presence with countless attacks and breakaways, missing closely a stage opportunity on Aramon Formigal and taking 3rd, just behind Warren Barguil and Rigoberto Uran. (in fact, I think he's really happy about his performance)
Who's going to be the leader? Time will tell, I think a lot depends on Kwiatkowski's disposition after the time trial.
Road race: Paulina Brzeźna–Bentkowska (TKK Pacific Toruń), Eugenia Bujak (GK Żyrardów), Małgorzata Jasińska (MCipollini Giordana), Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Rabobank-Liv Giant), Katarzyna Pawłowska (GSD Gestion Kallisto), Maja Włoszczowska (Giant XC Pro Team); reserve: Paula Gorycka (4F Racing Team);
Time trial: Bujak and Pawłowska.
Pay attention to Kasia Pawłowska - she's had a really impressive season, taking a lot of high places in international races and winning Tour Féminin en Limousin. Watch out for Kasia Niewiadoma - new Rabobank-Liv Giant trainee (perhaps more than that in the near future?) - she did Boels Ladies Tour with Rabo and won young rider's classification, taking 10th place in the GC. Ah, she doesn't know the meaning of the word "give up", so expect her to fight.
Best female riders in Poland. Yep. Wait, check again. Take a closer look. Isn't it Maja Włoszczowska? The MTB rider? Yeah, that's the problem. Włoszczowska used to race on the road - she was even a Polish National champion a couple years ago. I may be wrong but as far as I know she didn't do ANY international road race this year. She wasn't present at Polish Nationals. Nothing. She recovered from foot injury and came back to MTB racing, taking 2nd in CX World Champioships. Enough to be selected? I doubt that. There are a lot of riders (like Monika Brzeźna from Pacific Toruń - 2nd in Polish Mountain Championships, 1st in women team time trial) who would love to go and who, by hard work and results, proved that giving them a chance won't be a mistake.
Road race: Emanuel Piaskowy (TKK Pacific Toruń), Patryk Stosz (TC Lasocki Chrobry Głogów), Łukasz Wiśniowski (Etixx–Ihned), reserve: Bartosz Warchoł (TKK Pacific Toruń);
Time trial: Szymon Rekita (Sestese) and Wiśniowski.
Wiśniowski seems to be the strongest out of them but he's doing 3 races - team time trial, individual time trial and road race. Hard to say, depends on the strategy, I haven't talked to him yet. Piaskowy should do well, he finished 11th in Tour du Jura (1.2) a couple days ago. Stosz is a good climber, very good I'd say but is too much of a hothead. If he chooses the right moment to attack, there's a good chance they won't see him untill the finish. There's also a good chance that Eddy Merckx pays me a little visit this afternoon...
No Przemysław Kasperkiewicz in the time trial? That was a little suprise in Poland - he did well in Polish Nationals - 2nd in U-23 time trial, then several top10 and top3 places in Dutch races, 1st place in Ronde van Ransdaal, 6th in Carpathian Couriers Race. He wanted to go but wasn't selected. Shame.
Road race: Mateusz Kazimierczak (GKK Opty Mazowsze Grodzisk Mazowiecki), Piotr Konwa (4F Racing Team), Patryk Krzywda (KTK Kalisz), Michał Paluta (LKS POM Strzelce Krajeńskie), Gracjan Szeląg (KK Tarnovia Tarnowo Podgórne), reserve: Mikołaj Gutek (Mayday Lublin);
Time trial: Konwa and Paluta.
Strong team. Krzywda, Paluta and Szeląg all seem to understand themselves and can work as a team. Just like they did in Grand Prix Rüebliland, where Gracjan finished 4th, despite having a cold and racing a lot before. Paluta could do well in the time trial; if Szeląg has the legs, he can be pretty dangerous in the road race. I feel that the major drawback is the absence of Tobiasz Pawlak - 2nd in Junior Time Trial during Polish Nationals, 4th in Polish Mountain Championships.
What I don't understand is the presence of Piotr Konwa on the team. He races mainly MTB, doesn't have great results on the road and there are at least few guys that deserve to be selected. Konwa has no results in time trials. The one in Florence is almost 26 km long. No results whatsoever, I'm not counting the 7km time trial of Le Trophée Centre Morbihan, where he came in 6th.
Road Race: Bogumiła Dziuba, Agata Drozdek (BCM Nowatex Ziemia Darłowska), Natalia Nowotarska, Nikol Płosaj (UKS Jedynka Limaro Kórnik), reserve: Łucja Pietrzak (Koźminianka Koźminek);
Time trial: Dziuba and Drozdek.
Possibly the best junior team Poland can put forward.
I'll be talking to riders before and after the races so if I find a minute or two, I'll share it here.