Paris-Nice – Kwiatkowski Wins Prologue


World Road Race Champion Michal Kwiatkowski beat the time trial specialists to win the prologue for Paris Nice

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Paris-Nice – Kwiatkowski Wins Prologue

Etixx – Quick-Step rider Michal Kwiatkowski put on his Polish TT Champion jersey at Paris-Nice instead of the rainbow road race jersey, and went on to win the 6.7km prologue by less than a second. His 7’40” time (52.435 km/h) means the UCI World Road Champion will put on a yellow jersey for the 192km road stage on Monday.


Photo: Etixx – Quick-Step/ Tim De Waele

Kwiatkowski also leads the points classification, and is currently the best young rider. Tony Martin, German TT Champion, rounded out the podium in 3rd (+07″). Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing Team) was 2nd.

“I knew at 500 meters that it was going to be really close,” Kwiatkowski said. “I had the split times of Tony, which was a really big advantage for me to pace myself along the parcours. It was key to start as one of the last riders, on such a strong lineup of Etixx – Quick-Step. I’m happy that I had those great split times of a champion like Tony.”

“At 500 meters I just tried to do my best sprint possible and that helped me get the win. I’m really happy about this victory with such strong competitors, but in the end it is just 6.7 kilometers of about a thousand kilometers before the finish line in Nice. It’s going to be a week of hard racing.”

“But the one-week races can suit my skills, so we will see what can happen. The main goals are still ahead. I’m excited about what I did today, but I’m looking forward to the rest of Paris-Nice, defending the yellow jersey with a strong team here. We will do our best day-to-day. I’m still a young guy, turning 25 this year, so I am still developing as a rider even with the success like today. I am looking forward to the experience of Paris-Nice the rest of this week.”


Photo: Etixx – Quick-Step/ Tim De Waele

“I just had a quick chat with our CEO Patrick Lefevere a minute ago,” Kwiatkowski said. “Patrick is very happy with what we’ve done until now. We had a great winter collectively, with no big complications for anyone with their ?training for the 2015 season. We had good training camps too. Our lineup for 2015 is just great, and it helps that everyone is motivated including me”.

“This is my first victory of the year. It’s an accomplishment to be one of eight riders who has contributed to the 16 victory total on the road so far. I’m happy to be one of the guys who has won. But really, there is a team spirit among these 27 riders and that is really important. I don’t think it’s the end of the story here, either. I think our best races are ahead of us and we are all still getting into our best condition.”

Tony Martin – former world TT Champion – “I’m more or less happy with my performance and am also happy for Michal winning today,” Martin said. “Michal was super strong and he deserves this victory. I’m happy the yellow jersey is with Etixx – Quick-Step after the first day. As for me, I’m not just here for the prologue”.

“I am also ready for the mountains. I didn’t make a special preparation just for the prologue. So, we will see. But I was happy with my power and the result. We will now focus on the next stages. The flat stages are first and at Paris-Nice there is always a risk of crosswind and crashes. So, ?even the flat stages are not so easy. I am then looking forward to the mountain stages. I’m curious how I can perform there. Also, of course, with Michal as race leader we have two riders who can do well in this Paris-Nice overall. We’ll see what we can do but morale is high with two of us on the podium today.”

Road world champion Michal Kwiatkowski (EQS) showed he also had a huge talent against the clock when he upset most of the favourites to win the 6.7-km prologue of Paris-Nice and take the lead of the Race to the Sun in his first participation. The 24-year-old Polish rider outshone such riding machines as Australia’s Rohan Dennis (BMC), the hour world record holder, who finished inside the same second, or his team-mate Tony Martin, a three-times time trial world champion, who was seven seconds slower. Given the strength of his Etixx-Quick Step team, the man his director Wilfried Peeters describes as “the ideal rider for a one-week race” will be a difficult leader to dislodge. In any case his rivals are warned.

Van Baarle sets the tone
The first reference time was clocked by Dutchman Dylan Van Baarle (TCG) (Tour of Britain winner), whose 8:04 stood for a while until a perfectly timed effort by Giacomo Nizzolo, who clocked 8:02, at exactly 50 kph. The Italian’s leading mark did not last very long as Portugal’s Tiago Machado, starting immediately behind him, upstaged him at just over eight minutes.

Dennis leads for an hour
The first real specialist in action was world hour record hold Rohan Dennis, who smashed Machado’s time by 20 seconds, at exactly the same average speed as his world mark of 52.4 kph. The only rider to come any close in the first half of the field was Spain’s Luis-Leon Sanchez, who finished ten seconds off the pace but showed he was back in promising form on a race he clinched in 2009.

Beware of Degenkolb and Matthews
Tom-Jalte Slagter (TCG), winner of two stages a year ago, also showed he had good legs by completing the course under the eight minute barrier, a feat also achieved by two leading sprinters, John Degenkolb (TGA) and Michael Matthews (OGE). Sixth and 8th respectively, they will be among the men to watch in the next couple of stages.

Porte slightly below-par
Arch-favourite Richie Porte, the 2013 winner, also rode under eight minutes but his 7:55 were not enough to secure a place in the top ten. The Australian time-trial champion finished 13th, almost in the same time as team-mate Bradley Wiggins, the world champion, who was never really in contention. Geraint Thomas was the best-placed rider of Team Sky in 10th, just ahead of American Tejay Van Garderen (BMC)

Talansky disappoints
Among the leading big names to have performed under par were American Andrew Talansky, Porte’s runner-up two years ago, who lost 25 seconds to Kwiatkowski. France’s Romain Bardet fared even worse, squandering 35 seconds on a course that did not suit him. Italian climber Fabio Aru (AST) will also have 33 seconds to recover on this week’s climbs.

Second placed Rohan Dennis, hour record holder, said he had personal goals to do well on the first and last stages of the race – both individual time trials – in his first major race since setting the world hour record at 52.491 kilometres. “The goal for the rest of the week is to try and find my legs and do as well as I possibly can for the team,” Dennis said. “I am pretty sure Tejay has some good form after Oman. He has been looking at this race for awhile now.”

Van Garderen finished 11th, 14 seconds back, and said he was pleased with his result in his first outing since finishing runner-up at the Tour of Oman last month. “I think today was a success,” van Garderen said. “I feel bad for Rohan, missing out on such a narrow victory. That would have been a nice win for him. But as far as both of us are placed, we are right there with some of the GC (general classification) guys and we even put a lot of time into some of the contenders.”

Orica GreenEdge’s Simon Yates lost 41 seconds in the short test. “It was a time trial for guys with stronger legs” says his team. “It was not technical at all, but after a few kilometres we took a right and it was going uphill for the next three kilometres.” Team DS Lapage said that whilst not ideal, the opportunity exists for the 22-year-old to make major moves up in the overall rankings. “First of all we know Simon is not one the greatest time trial specialists and then we also have to consider that he has been sick the last ten days,” Lapage said. “He did a good time trial in relation to his capacity and now it’s important for the first flat stages that he stays safe, without losing time before the mountain top finish.”


Geraint Thomas led the Team Sky charge at Paris-Nice as the Welshman claimed a top 10 finish in the opening prologue. Former race winners Sir Bradley Wiggins and Richie Porte finished level on time, one second further back in 12th and 13th respectively.

1. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Etixx – Quick-Step 0:07:40
2. Rohan Dennis, BMC Racing Team
3. Tony Martin, Etixx – Quick-Step 0:00:07
4. Luis Leon Sanchez, Astana Pro Team 0:00:10
5. Lars Boom, Astana Pro Team
6. John Degenkolb, Team Giant-Alpecin
7. Sylvain Chavanel, IAM Cycling
8. Michael Matthews, Orica GreenEdge 0:00:12
9. Tom Dumoulin, Team Giant-Alpecin 0:00:13
10. Geraint Thomas, Team Sky 0:00:14

11. Tejay Van Garderen, BMC Racing Team
12. Bradley Wiggins, Team Sky 0:00:15
13. Richie Porte, Team Sky
15. Jack Bauer, Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
18. Philippe Gilbert, BMC Racing Team
96. Nicolas Roche, Team Sky
100. Ben Swift, Team Sky
119. Simon Yates, Orica GreenEdge @41
155. Daniel Mclay, Bretagne-Séché Environnement 0:01:00
158. Luke Rowe, Team Sky 0:01:16

1. Michal Kwiatkowski, Etixx – Quick-Step 0:07:40
2. Rohan Dennis, BMC Racing Team
3. Tony Martin, Etixx – Quick-Step 0:00:07

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