fi’zi:k’s Kwiatkowski wins Strade Bianche

Michal Kwiatkowski, aboard his fi’zi:k Antares VS saddle and racing for Team Sky, claimed a historic win on Saturday at Strade Bianche. The 26-year-old Pole consigned an under-par 2016 to the history books as he reclaimed the title he won in 2014.

‘I’m so happy, it’s an unexpected victory,’ Kwiatkowski said. ‘After the difficult season I had last year, I still had a lot of trust from the team. Now the preparation for this season has already paid off. A second victory at the Strade Bianche… it’s just amazing.’

The 175km journey over the rolling hills and dusty white gravel of the Tuscan countryside saw Kwiatkowski in the group that broke free with around 50km to go. Kwiatkowski then led over the climb of Monteaperti, before doing much of the work in a leading quartet that included Zdenek Stybar, Tim Wellens and recent Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner Greg Van Avermaet (fi’zi:k Antares 00).

Then with 14km to go, on a wet day in Tuscany, Kwiatkowski put the hammer down and soloed to a memorable victory. Van Avermaet finished 15 seconds behind, with Wellens in third.

While the one-dayers did battle in Italy, the finest stage racers headed to Bois-d’Arcy in France for the opening stage of the eight-stage Paris-Nice, and it proved a successful first day for the home nation as FDJ’s Arnaud Demare (fi’zi:k Arione VS saddle) edged countryman Julian Alaphilippe in a two-up sprint.

Demare was part of a premium group that formed in crosswinds an hour into the stage, ably helped by his FDJ team including Davide Cimolai (fi’zi:k R1B Uomo shoes), before fragmenting on the approach to the finish line. The race now moves onto Rochefort-en-Yvelines for the 192.5km stage to Amilly.