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Leopold König: “Sky is the right team for me”

Leopold König began the year with high hopes and a good form, but his Spring goals were hammered by a knee injury because of which me missed two months of racing. The 27-year-old rider came back in late April and soon afterwards finished 4th in the Bayern Rundfahrt, a result that gave him confidence that he will get into top shape for the start of the Tour de France.

In the Critérium du Dauphiné – his last stage race before the July appointment – Leopold König had some solid runs in the mountains and he came home in 11th place, a result which was even more impressive, as Dauphiné was his first World Tour race of the year. Then, in the Tour de France, although he lost a significant amount of time on the cobbles, the NetApp-Endura cyclist had a very strong second half of the race, with many top 10 placings and even a podium in the Chamrousse stage. Thanks to these results, he climbed to 7th in the GC, at the end of what was his first Tour de France.

This sparked the interest of many teams which tried to sign him for next season. Finally, Leopold König decided to go to Sky, where he’ll have the opportunity to ride all the big races of the World Tour calendar and continue his development. More on this and his 2014 results, in the following interview.

– Leo, how was your season?

If I look back, I can say it was successful based on my Tour de France performance, but if I’m talking of the overall I can say it was a bit unlucky. The first part of the year wasn’t going according to the plan, in March I was injured and it wasn’t easy to cope with this. Finally, it all went well, but the first part was disappointing, because I missed a lot of training and racing and that made me worried for my condition before the Tour de France. Fortunately, it all went well in July and that saved my season, but I feel I could have done a lot more if not for those injuries in the Spring, because I felt really good since the Tour of Oman and I was confident I can get some nice results in Tirreno-Adriatico and the Criterium International.

– How was the Tour de France?

At the start, I was expecting a very stressful and very hard race, and it was as I thought it would be. Compared to the Vuelta, which I did in 2013, the first days were completely different. There were no real mountains, but you had to keep your focus in every single moment, because the peloton was very nervous all the time. You have to be prepared and at 100% from a physical and mental point of view for a really tough race, with the cobbles, the wind, and the fight for a better place in the peloton.

– Before the Tour de France, did you expect to finish in the top 10, considering your Dauphiné result?

For me it was very important to finish the Dauphiné. I knew that I need a one-week long race and Dauphiné helped me. During the race, I wasn’t at 100% and that helped me coming into the Tour de France, because I was confident that I can be at a better level than I was in June. The last two months of preparation went really well and this was very important.

– After the Tour de France, you received many offers and you finally signed with Sky. What made you transfer there?

Team Sky is the right for me, I followed them in the past two years and I like the way they work, the trainings they do and the philosophy of the team. It’s a perfect environment for me to develop and follow my personal goals. Of course, the final decision was not so easy, because I got three more good offers, from NetApp-Endura and two other teams, so I had to consider the most important factor, which was how can my new team help me grow. With Team Sky focusing on the Grand Tours, I knew this will be in my benefit and will help me develop.

– What races will you do next year?

It depends also on the team’s goals and we all know that the Tour de France is very important for Sky. I would like to do the Tour again, but also some World Tour races I didn’t have the opportunity to do so far, like Tirreno-Adriatico, Volta a Catalunya and Vuelta al Pais Vasco. I find all these races quite interesting.

– And what do you think of the Tour de France course?

It’s again interesting, especially for the spectators and for the people staying in the front of the TV, they will all expect a big show in the first week. I’m also expecting to see some fireworks then, like it was the case also this year. The course is nice, but I believe there should be more kilometers of time trial in the race, because this is a key point and the winner should have to race more than 13 km of ITT.

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