Pidcock, Rodriguez, Bernal, AND Thomas: Kwiatkowski discusses INEOS Grenadiers' potential legendary team for the Tour de France Cycling

Pidcock, Rodriguez, Bernal, AND Thomas: Kwiatkowski discusses INEOS Grenadiers' potential legendary team for the Tour de France

Pidcock, Rodriguez, Bernal, AND Thomas: Kwiatkowski discusses INEOS Grenadiers' potential legendary team for the Tour de France

Veteran Michal Kwiatkowski knows very well how things work in the cycling world. The 2014 world champion is currently in his ninth year with the now INEOS Grenadiers, a team that we should definitely keep a close eye on for the Tour de France! And it's not surprising, considering they'll be heading to La Grande Boucle with riders like Tom Pidcock, Egan Bernal, Carlos Rodriguez, and Geraint Thomas as team leaders...

"It’s been a while since I last raced. My last race was indeed Liège-Bastogne-Liège," he shared during the Critérium du Dauphiné - the main preparation race for the Tour de France - with "I’m really looking forward to this part of the season. It's usually a period that suits me quite well. This year it’s even more special since we also have the Olympics. Add the Tour and the Vuelta to my schedule, and you’re looking at some exciting months ahead. I’m really eager. I see the Dauphiné as the first step in a big summer."

Kwiatkowski comments on the atmosphere at INEOS and his fondness for the Dauphiné

In what turned out to be a particularly noteworthy edition of the Dauphiné - marked by a high number of dropouts - the Polish veteran did his usual work. He held his own on the climbs, and on the final day, there was even a big party in the INEOS bus, as Rodriguez won the stage. "Which races are my priority? It’s hard to say. Generally, you decide what to do on a day-by-day basis, depending on health and form, as every day is unique and extremely important. I’m a rider who really wants to give 100 percent every day," he ambitiously stated.

The altitude camp prior to the Dauphiné also came up. "Many of us from the team went to Tenerife. We had a very successful training camp there. I was there for almost three weeks. It’s always nice there: good weather, great training roads, and things like that. I really love that time on the volcano. We were all highly motivated in the altitude camp team, so that gives an extra boost to the whole squad. So far, so good."

Kwiatkowski was very pleased that, unlike in 2023, he was participating in the French preparatory race again this year. "Last year I started in the Tour of Switzerland. That was fun, but honestly, I'm very happy to be back in the Dauphiné. This race always gives me a bit more leeway to play with the days between races. In the Dauphiné, there are always many top riders in good form. Then it's still three weeks until the Tour, so it's crucial for them to maintain that form. On the other hand, for those not in peak form, there's more time to make progress and work on their condition in a certain way. This year for me, it's about testing my legs again in race conditions, especially after such a long period without racing."

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Pidcock, Rodriguez, Bernal, AND Thomas: Kwiatkowski discusses INEOS Grenadiers' potential legendary team for the Tour de France
Michal Kwiatkowski is now well acquainted with the ins and outs of the Tour de France

Therefore, it is very likely that we will see Kwiatkowski in action both in the Tour and the Vuelta. Normally he works in support of the climbers and GC leaders, although we should never completely rule out the Chełmża-born rider in terms of achieving his own success. After all, it was just last year that Kwiatkowski clinched a tough mountain stage himself. "If I feel good and think I can compete for a stage win, I certainly won't shy away from it. But on the other hand, if I have to drop back early on a climb and end up in the gruppetto, that's also part of the game and part of the job."

Rodriguez, Pidcock, Thomas AND Bernal: INEOS Grenadiers likely heading to Tour de France with a legendary team

This raises the question of who exactly will make up the Tour team for INEOS Grenadiers. "Carlos Rodriguez has surprised me many times," the Eastern European explained. "He's still very young, but already so mature. He finishes second in the Basque Country, and wins in Romandie on his own. That's really impressive. Last year he finished an impressive fifth in the Tour. His talent is undeniable. The same goes for Tom Pidcock, who is versatile. He has the qualities to go for a classification, but also to act as a stage hunter."

"For me, it's great to be on a team with such guys and to be able to help them," Kwiatek continued. "And as for Egan: it's really cool how he's working his way back. That guy has made a fantastic comeback. Seeing such a great champion back in the leading group is simply wonderful. I really like that we have multiple cards to play in a race like the Tour with our team. Our lineup is indeed quite strong and I'm very happy about that. It should be said that not all spots are definitively filled yet, but at the end of the day, it's always better to have multiple top riders. And with a lineup like ours, we can be quite sure of that. When a certain stage comes up, you can still determine a lot about tactics and such on the day itself. That makes for wonderful racing."

Kwiatkowski, who we spoke to on his birthday, no longer really experiences any particular form of fear after all these years in the peloton. However, such a busy racing schedule can cause considerable mental fatigue, as became clear. "Physically, it's still a question of how I will feel after all those races, but mentally, the period between the Tour and the Vuelta will be tough. There are a few weeks in between and it will be difficult to bridge that gap mentally, so to speak. However, I think the last times I did this, I proved that I can handle the transition well. I have almost always come out of the Tour with good legs and good morale. That's a nice thing to keep in mind."

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