Unlike his rivals, Pole Michal Kwiatkowski is not using altitude training to prepare for the Tour de France

While his rivals were flying high, Michal Kwiatkowski took a different approach to train for the Tour de France.

“I’ve never trained at altitude. Maybe I’ll do it later in my career, but right now, I’m sticking to what works,” said Kwiatkowski, 11th overall in the Tour last year.

“Have I tried an oxygen tent? No. I don’t know how altitude could help me or how I would react. It’s a risk to try something new before the most important race of the year.”

Chris Froome, Vincenzo Nibali and Alberto Contador trained at 2165 metres in Tenerife, Spain, in the last month. Others went to Mount Etna and Sierra Nevada. Team Omega Pharma-QuickStep‘s 24-year-old, however, went home to Poland and previewed some of the Tour de France’s stages.

“If I were to try altitude training, maybe I’d go in August or at another point in the year.”

This spring, Kwiatkowski succeeded in improving in the Ardennes Classics. Instead of the cobbled classics, he raced the traditional Ardennes warm-up race, the Tour of the Basque Country. After finishing second overall in the tour, he placed fifth in the Amstel Gold Race, third in La Flèche Wallonne and third in Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

He continued to the Tour of Romandy and two days later, beat Froome and won the prologue. Afterwards, he took a break to get ready for the Tour de France.

“I went home to Poland for two weeks and went seven days without touching my bike.”

Instead of an altitude camp, Kwiatkowski stayed in the team’s hotel in Calpe, Spain, and travelled to France to recon part of next month’s race.

He returned to racing in the Critérium du Dauphiné yesterday. He said that he went too hard too soon and paid on the climb mid-way into the 10.4-kilometre time trial in Lyon.

The next stages, including the Col du Béal summit finish today, should indicate if his training approach is paying off. After the race ends, he will preview the Tour’s stages in the Alps.

“Froome has just one goal. He prepared specifically for the Tour and previewed even the Pyrenean stages,” said Kwiatkowski.

“I don’t compare myself to him. He’s at the same level with Contador. I’m on another level and I’m looking at my own progression. I believe in my chances and have support from the team.”

Michel Kwiatkowski in the Prologue of the 2014 Tour de Romandie

Michel Kwiatkowski in the Prologue of the 2014 Tour de Romandie