Tirreno-Adriatico Stage 4: Kwiatkowski Battles on Final Climb, Finishes 7th and Protects GC Lead
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Michal Kwiatkowski, despite having to battle a 10% gradient with 1km to go with other GC contenders up the road, finished 7th in one of the most crucial stages of the race: 244km Stage 4 on Saturday.
The finish in Cittareale (Selva Rotonda) included a 4.65km climb averaging 6.4%. Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo) was able to get a solo advantage going into the steepest section, but was joined by Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team), Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Richie Porte (Team Sky). Contador was able to win by a second over Quintana, and 5" over Daniel Moreno (Team Katusha), who had bridged in the final meters.
Kwiatkowski was led up the final climb by a hard working Rigoberto Uran Uran. Uran used up all the energy he had helping minimize the time gaps for Kwiatkowski in the Maglia Azzurra.
Kwiatkowski now leads the GC by 16" over Contador, and 23" over Quintana. Uran is 5th in the GC, 38" back.
OPQS looks next to a 192km Stage 5 on Sunday. The stage is much shorter, but includes Passo Lanciano late in the race. There are several sections with an average gradient between 8% and 9.6%. There is also a 13% ramp. The final kilometer of the stage consists of steep climbing, including a 30% ramp in the final 1.4km of the stage. There is also a 12% ramp in the final 250 meters.
"It was a pretty hard stage, but fighting against the best climbers in the world is always hard to do," Kwiatkowski said. "But, actually I am really happy about what my teammates did. Wout Poels pulled for 7 kilometers in the end. That was the first time he could really help me this season and I was really impressed by what he did. Seven kilometers on that climb, we had a headwind for a few kilometers. I'm very impressed and thankful for him. Then I had Rigo at the end, and he did a great job for me. We set our own pace. I didn't lose much time to Alberto. But, he had a good day today so congratulations to him. I'm very happy I defended the jersey. I think tomorrow it's going to be the last day when the climbers can gain some time. I think everything will be close. You see everyone looking for bonifications, but It's not just important to get a few seconds. It's also important to win a stage. Alberto was looking for the stage today because 10" is important at the end of this Tirreno-Adriatico. I expect some big efforts by the GC competitors and we will see how it is tomorrow."