Tinkoff rider Poljanski to start Giro in rookie season

The 23-year-old will help escort the team’s leaders through the mountains

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TAIPING, Malaysia (VN) — Pole Pawel Poljanski smiled widely at the start of the Tour de Langkawi today. He has every reason to be happy; Tinkoff-Saxo’s team brass scheduled him for the Giro d’Italia in his first professional year.

“I’m young [23 years old]. You can say it’s too early for me to race the Giro but I think it’s the right time,” Poljanski told VeloNews.

“I am not going there as a captain. In a few years, when I’m going better, I’ll have my chance. I hope I take the same path as my friend and teammate Rafal Majka, first he went there for Alberto Contador and now he’s leading. That’s what I want to do.”

Bjarne Riis and sports director Fabrizio Guidi scheduled Poljanski’s season. He races the Tour de Langkawi, the Volta a Catalunya, the Tour de Romandie, and the Giro. The blond rider will tow leaders Nicolas Roche and Majka through the mountains.

Majka held the white jersey and placed seventh in the Giro last year. This year, he returns with Ireland’s Roche, whose father Stephen won in 1987.

“I’m a climber. I’m not great at sprinting, I’m OK on the flats, but more importantly, I’m good in the mountains,” Poljanski said.

“I’m a climber, and I want to improve at that. I’m training a lot on my time trial bike because I know that it’s important. The Giro features a team time trial and individual time trial this year. I’m training a lot on my road bike and my time trial bike.”

Sitting in the shade, next to the start line of the Tour de Langkawi stage 2 where the thermometer reads 40 degrees Celsius, Poljanski laughed and talked freely. He and Majka became friends in the junior ranks, he raced as an amateur in Italy, and he has more friends around his apartment in Tuscany than at home in Poland.

“Not a girlfriend though!” Poljanski said. “I’ll wait for one, right now, my mind is on my bike, improving and the Giro.”

His agent Giovanni Lombardi, not Majka, helped him join Tinkoff. Lombardi also helped guide him through the amateur ranks. Majka raced for three years in Italy for three different teams, but never the big teams like Zalf Fior and Trevigiani. He won the GP Enzo del Rosso and Poland’s road race title, and placed second in the Coppa della Pace last year. It seemingly prepared him for the Giro task ahead.

“I will do all I can to arrive at the Giro ready. I want to race all three weeks,” he said. “I’m going to take it easy in these early races to arrive there not overdone. This is my first race but I’m not at 100 percent; I still have a way to go and I am three kilograms overweight. I’m calm that I can arrive to the Giro ready.”

After Langkawi, Poljanski trains with the team at altitude on Mount Etna. At home in Tuscany, in San Giuliano Terme near Lucca, he goes out with Majka for aperitivo and dinner. He passes on the wine, though, because his mind is on the Giro.

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