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Flèche Wallonne: Kasia Niewiadoma searching for lady luck

The Polish star is hoping for salvation in the Ardennes following a string of close calls and frustrating near-misses so far in 2021.

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Good things come to those who wait, or at least that is what Kasia Niewiadoma is hoping for.

The Canyon-SRAM rider has enlivened many of the early season one-day races so far, including Trofeo Alfredo Binda and the Amstel Gold Race, with her irrepressible style of riding. She has often made the race-defining move, but she has yet to convert it to a victory in 2021.

Niewiadoma is hoping time is on her side.

“I feel like I could have done much better,” Niewiadoma told VeloNews. “There are definitely things that didn’t work out in the finals, maybe a moment of hesitation or a little mistake that cost me and my team a better result

“It’s just bike racing and sometimes everything happens as you wish and other times it doesn’t. It is an incentive to work harder and maybe be more patient. Eventually, we will get some luck.”

Also read: Kasia Niewiadoma extends with Canyon-SRAM

Ever since she turned professional at the tender age of 19, Niewiadoma has been a rider that likes to race on feel and she’s never afraid to have a go when the opportunity arises.

With Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday and Liège-Bastogne-Liège later in the week, Niewiadoma sees two more chances to turn her aggressive racing into a place on the top of the podium before she takes a mid-season break. The Polish rider — who recently extended her contract with Canyon-SRAM until 2024 — is a calm character, though, and she’s not putting too much pressure on herself.

“I feel like I just want to take [Flèche Wallonne] as if it’s just another race and not think too much about it, to do my best and see where I can end up,” she said. “With good legs, you can do more than you know or more than you expect.

“It is going to be easier at the beginning because we have 40 kilometers on the flat roads and, in the end, I think there will be two scenarios. There might be a breakaway going early in the race and making it chaos in the final or, as it happened in the last editions, the winner is decided on the Mur de Huy. I think it’s most likely to happen in that way.”

Kasia Niewiadoma and Elisa Longo Borghini on the attack at the Amstel Gold Race 2021
Kasia Niewiadoma and Elisa Longo Borghini formed a late attack at the Amstel Gold Race but it came to nothing. (Dion Kerckhofs – Pool/Getty Images)

Frustration at Amstel Gold Race

After a disappointing turn at the Tour of Flanders two weeks ago, Niewiadoma looked back to her dynamic best at the Amstel Gold Race — her favorite of the hilly classics. A well-timed attack on the final ascent of the Cauberg put her on course to successfully defend the title she had won under similar circumstances in 2019.

However, despite her frustrated attempts at goading companion Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) into sharing the work in the escape she had initiated, Niewiadoma was caught and rode home for 10th. If she could do it again, she would do it all differently.

Also read: PYSO, ep. 73: Kasia Niewiadoma on racing in an uncertain world

“We lost it because of a stupid action or stupid behavior. I feel like that left me unsatisfied because I knew that I had good enough legs to be up there,” she told VeloNews. “If we had worked together, I don’t believe that the group behind us would have been able to catch us.

“If I was in that situation again, I would carry on riding even for the second place. At that time, in the race, you only think about winning, and second is like losing. Now, being second instead of 10th is a better reward.”

Putting it into perspective

Whatever the results may be, Niewiadoma is just happy that she gets to do what she loves, which is riding her bike. With much of the world still grappling with COVID-19, she is appreciative of the opportunity to race.

“I feel like it’s good to always put things into perspective. With what’s happening in the world, it makes you realize we’re spoiled. We still have jobs, and we can still race and train,” Niewiadoma said.

“We don’t have spectators on the side of the road, but we still feel that we do what we love. It’s amazing that all of the organizers and the UCI made it happen. People are fighting for our sport and they just want to make it happen. It would be so easy to cancel everything. Definitely, as riders, we appreciate the effort put in by the cycling world.”

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