World Champion – yes, you can believe the hype
Michał Kwiatkowski. More than any exotic mountain pass, or desirable location, is a name that challenges everyone; from cycling pundit to racing fan alike – we’re all trying to do him proud and pronounce his name correctly. Although, it’s not Michal’s name that is causing all the commotion and getting the people’s attention lately. It’s the fact that for the past several years, Magic Mike has been breaking records ever since he discovered the bicycle, and is now the UCI World Road Race Champion, 2014.
Success never comes overnight, but there’s no doubting the benefits of winter training. Kwiatkowski style!
Riding their hearts out
Take a glance at Magic Mike’s results on ProCycling Stats, and they’re nothing short of amazing. As INRNG rightly points out Michal was all out World Junior Champion in 2008. Rubbing shoulders with the likes of Peter Sagan, Matthias Brändle and Taylor Phinney. Interestingly, it is rumoured that real-life trade alliances amongst pro-teams had been swept aside by his current team, OPQS, taking him from a rival, because Magic Mike really is this good.
As much as the World Championship victory was eventually a formidable display of individual achievement, it would have come to nothing without his hit men: Michal’s Polish compatriots. Much like the German World Cup Team, the Poles dominated their pitch, in this case Ponferrada, Spain, and demonstrated an enviable performance of skill, patriotism and all out dedication for their champion. All but one of his teammates was spent by the end of the day. As seasoned commentator, Phil Ligget described it, it was as if the Poles were stealing the thunder from the likes of Belguim, GB and even the host nation, Spain.
It was no surprise then that Michal Kwiatkowski would be on the starting grid on September 28. All the same, very few thought he would make the impact after a successful and exhausting 2014 season. It seemed like this year was relentless, to the point that I thought he’d been over-raced by his OPQS team. Clearly, Magic Mike knows better.
Remarkably the last 10KM of the elite race is still online for us to revisit Michal’s victory – catch it before it goes!
Alternatively, see highlights here:
Like last year it rained, and was a slog of a race. They say a picture says a 1,000 words, well this shot of Spartacus on the @LondonBaroudeur Twitter page says a lot about that day. Daring to go when others were second-guessing, the Pole fought tooth and nail to the finish line. His victory is made all the more sweet when you look at the racing roster for the day and who everyone was betting on for the podium. The likes of: former rainbow jersey winners, Philippe Gilbert and Rui Costa; Classics and one-day giant, Fabian Cancerllara (aka Spartacus); Belgian ‘ard-man, Greg Van Avermaet, German sprint sensation, John Degenkolb, and the formidable, Simon Gerrans of Australia, it was a dramatic chase that was refreshingly different from last year’s cat-and-mouse win by Rui Costa.
In this digital-age of ‘everything’, where we expect the world from our smartphones and tablets, it may be asking too much to expect the same from everyday people like Michal Kwiatkowski, especially after the World Championships. So it’s admirable to see the champion take on the media with a grin, who can’t help but share his happiness.
Moments when the race was won: inch-by-inch the chase group near the Pole. He looks back, but seems confident; wiping his face for the final metres. Michal sits up with still 100m to go, kisses the red-eagle on his Polish jersey and salutes the world, triumphant!
‘Magic Mike,’ with all due respect, is a very worthy World Champion. Here’s to 2015, Michal Kwiatkowski!