Tirreno-Adriatico Stage 5: Kwiatkowski Keeps the White Jersey
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Michal Kwiatkowski achieved his goal of keeping the White Jersey for Best Young Rider after the 230km mountain stage at Tirreno-Adriatico on Sunday.
Kwiatkowski, who took the Maglia Azzurra by 4" by staying with all the top GC riders on Prati di Tivo on Saturday, was able to stay in the select group going into the final kilometers. However, Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) launched an attack on one of the steepest sections with 1.4km to go. The cobbled finish averaged 12%, with ramps of 19 percent. Only five or six riders were able to chase, but none could close the gap enough to prevent Rodriguez from winning solo. Kwiatkowski did his best, but could not hold the pace of riders such as Alberto Contador (Team Saxo-Tinkoff), Chris Froome (Team Sky ProCycling), and Vincenzo Nibali. They already made a move before Rodriguez launched his winning attack on the very tough final climb.
Bauke Mollema (Blanco ProCycling Team) was 2nd, Contador 3rd. Froome now wears the Maglia Azzurra, and Kwiatkowski is in 4th (24").
"Today I was pretty good but in the final I really suffered," Kwiatkowski said. "I tried to resist as long as I could, staying on the wheels, but when Froome and Contador accelerated on the steepest part of the climb I lost contact. I struggled and I fought to not lose too much time. Considering the circumstances and the riders who are in front of me, I'm happy about my performance. Now I'm fourth in the GC. I will try to defend my position tomorrow on a not so easy stage, and than give it my all in the final TT. I want to thank my team. Once again they were super strong and they took care of me, kilometer by kilometer. I'm happy to be part of this group."
Also, Gert Steegmans was forced to abandon the race due to pain on his left knee.
"Today, in accordance with the team I decided to stop," Steegmans said. "This knee is annoying me since my crash at Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen, and the weather here at Tirreno didn't help me a lot," Steegmans said. "Today I decided to stop to avoid any risk prior to the Northern Classics."
Tomorrow Steegmans will undergo further examination at the Herentals clinic.