Opening the 2023 Season with Kasia Niewiadoma

By Kasia Niewiadoma

Every year after Christmas, things start going by at double the speed! I began 2023 by going away for two training camps that were very intense in terms of training load and meeting with the sponsors, doing photo shoots, and engaging in team-building activities. It’s great to be able to devote a big chunk of time to building the core and base for mental and physical strength, yet on the other hand, it’s exhausting.

Coming back home between camps meant I was focusing on my recovery and health, ensuring all the hard work was nicely stored in my body and not lost by overdoing it. One lesson I have learned over the last couple of years as a professional rider is that it’s so easy to overdo and overtrain in this delicate time of the year when you start training with others. You start comparing yourself with your teammates instead of focusing on your own path created by your coach and the team around you.

With that said, getting older is nice, as the experience and knowledge keep me away from making small yet valuable mistakes. At the moment, I feel powerful. I can say I’m satisfied with how everything has gone so far! To be candid, I am very excited about this season and, at the same time, quite stressed as the anticipation for everything builds.

I know I’m in shape and don’t want to lose it or get sick. I think most of us start to overthink different scenarios, but I guess it’s because we care so much about the perfect performance. I’m also starting the season with important races. Strade Bianche is a big goal for me. I have been on a podium a couple of times, but until now have not managed to take the win. I still believe I can do it, and I really want the victory! I just don’t know where I am at when it comes to my competitors, so it will be fun to see how everyone worked through their winter.

Women's Strade Bianche
2022 Women’s Strade Bianche. ©ThomasMaheux

Every season comes with surprises

One thing I love is that every new season comes with surprises. Somebody is always popping out of nowhere with excellent conditioning and mental strength! I love seeing young riders leave their comfort zone and show they are not afraid to fight! I get very motivated by them as they have this pure survival energy! My curiosity about my rivals is growing; I’m looking forward to facing all of them and understanding who will dictate the pace in the final and surprise us with killer attacks.

Focusing on the leading competitors

Regarding the Classics, I believe we have a couple of teams that will be hard to beat—but not impossible. SDWorx, trek, Movistar, and FDJ have very powerful squads. They feature all-rounders who can climb, sprint, and sustain high power in breakaway moves! I think Liane Lippert, Annemiek van Vlueten, Elisa Longo Borghini and Lotte Kopecky will be a few of my main rivals.

An exciting season of new combinations and strengths coming together within Canyon//SRAM

Yet, for my team, the months ahead will be filled with surprises and action. This season we have a lot of new and young riders. They are talented, eager to learn and to race as hard as possible! We also have experienced riders who are smart and who can save their energies throughout the race until the critical moment or the final. These two groups empower and inspire each other to be better yet remain fresh and motivated in mind and spirit. I’m thrilled with the environment we have within the team and am very much looking forward to bringing that into the races that await us.

A three-part strategy for the months ahead

I have broken things down into three parts when preparing for all I have coming up this season. First, of course, things will get started with The Classics. Then, I am targeting Strade Bianche and Ardennes. After that, I have a little rest, and then I begin my preparation for Tour de France Femmes, which is very important to me. Finally, I will wind down the season by aiming for the World Championship title.

Throughout all of it, I’m looking forward to all those stressful movements when your position in the peloton is so critical and when you just need to fight with everything you have. You must be so focused and concentrated that you don’t think but act and react. I love that state of being.

I also want to see how strong I am mentally. I know all my numbers from a power meter, so I see the shape is there. But, simultaneously, I know it is not enough to win. In addition to the physical strength, you need to be mentally tough and not allow unexpected circumstances to phase you. I hope to bring it all together to achieve my goals this season.