Wednesday, October 27, 2021
HomeInterviewsLeo Konig - "Now other riders know they have to look out...

Leo Konig – “Now other riders know they have to look out for us”

-

Leo Konig
Leo Konig.

Up until Stage Eight of the 2013 Vuelta, the Czech Republic’s 25 year-old Leo Konig (NetApp-Endura) was best known as the winner earlier this year of the Queen Stage in the United States’ biggest race, the Tour of California.

But his successes are no surprise to those who knew Konig’s previous palmares; especially his GC win in the notoriously hilly 2010 Tour of Austria.

Konig turned pro with Czech Continental team PSK Whirlpool in 2006 and would stay with the team until the end of 2010.

During his time with PSK there were wins in Eastern Europe; but 2010 was the year it all came good with a stage win as well as the GC in Austria – not to mention a stage and GC win in the Czech Cycling Tour as well as stage wins in UCI races in the Czech Republic and Bulgaria.

He moved to German Pro Continental squad NetApp for 2011 and immediately posted solid results; 14th on GC in the Tour of Turkey, second on GC in the Tour of Austria, third on GC in the Tour de l’Ain and ninth on GC in the Tour of Britain.

Still with NetApp for 2012 there was a TTT win in the Coppi-Bartali, a third on GC in the Tour of Utah and stage win in the Tour of Britain.

But this year has seen him reach the highest level in the sport with stage wins in two World Tour races and sit eighth on GC in one of the World’s greatest races as the climax approaches.

And that’s not to mention a stage and GC win in the Czech Cycling Tour along the way.

VeloVeritas caught up with Leo on the Vuelta’s second rest day.

Leo Konig
Leo takes Stage 8 of la Vuelta into Alto Penas Blancas. Photo©HRoth/Endura

How has the rest day been, Leo?

“We slept longer, rode the bike for one hour, had lunch, tried to relax, did some interviews – it’s not really been a relaxing day but at least we got some rest.”

Stage Eight; a great win, congratulations – but why choose that stage?

“Because in the first part of the race there were only two opportunities for me before the real mountains began.

“On the first stage I targeted I was fourth (Stage Two) I put in a good attack that day but I wasn’t able to follow the best.

“I said to the team three days before Stage Eight that it was my target – and I when I look back I think I had a bit of luck going my way.”

How did it compare to winning in California?

“The moment you cross the line you don’t realise what you’ve achieved; sure, you’re happy but it’s not ‘til after the stage that you realise how big a thing it is to win a stage in a Grand Tour.

“There’s more publicity, more media – more everything!”

Have you found you’re tighter marked after the stage win?

“Of course!

“There’s been a little bit of a change of attitude towards me and the team; you can see other riders keeping an eye on me – now they know they have to look out for us.”

You rode a good time trial, too.

“It was a little bit tough, two days after my win I got sick and suffered a lot.

“I had no idea how my body would react – it wasn’t a full mountain time trial but it had a tough climb and a fast descent off it, so I was pleased enough that I did a good ride.”

Are you over the sickness, now?

“I can’t say that I’m fully recovered but I feel better every day, I can feel that my body is responding positively.

“Stage 14 in the cold and the rain and the long stage 15 were very fatiguing – but after today’s rest day I think I’ll recover better and better.

“It’s interesting to see how your body reacts in these situations.”

Leo Konig
We’ll be seeing much more of Leo in this pose. Photo©NetApp/Endura

What have been the longest races you’ve ridden prior to the Vuelta?

“I’ve ridden the Tour of Portugal and the Qinghai Lakes in China – both ten day races.

“I think that when I consider that I’ve been sick and there are days when my body and legs weren’t good I can’t complain about where I am; and I think I’ll be good in this third week.”

What were the toughest races you’ve ridden prior to the Vuelta?

“The Tour of Portugal is a tough race – and so was the Tour of Switzerland with six mountain top finishes and bad weather.

“But they’re not as hard as this – you can’t compare, you have 200 riders and every day it’s a fight if you’re riding GC, with the last 50 K always very stressful.”

How high do you think you can go on the GC?

“You can’t say – my goal was to be in the top 10 and I’m happy to keep my eighth position if possible.

“But you have good days and bad days and you can lose time – there are still some very hard climbs to come.”

Were you surprised to see Basso drop out.

“The freezing cold and wet was a big issue on that day – I was actually surprised at myself that day because I don’t like the rain and cold but I got through it OK.”

Do you ride on watts or ‘feel’ on a day like that?

“I don’t like to look at my SRM display during a race – I tape it up!

“The data is there and I’ll look at it when I need to.”

Horner?

“I read his palmarès; his best ever Tour was ninth and his best Vuelta was 20th place, so the way he’s riding is quite surprising – at his age it’s unbelievable.

“He’s a big threat to Nibali.”

Leo Konig
Leo and the NetApp team have shown well in this Vuelta. Photo©NetApp/Endura

Were you surprised that Nibali has started to show signs of weakness?

“No, I’m not surprised; I think it’s normal that he be tired after those three days in Pyrenees.”

Has the Media back home in the Czech Republic being keeping up with you?

“The sport is becoming more and more popular all the time – especially with Roman Kreuziger riding a good Tour de France.

“The media are devoting more and more time to it with more TV time each year.”

Will we see you in Florence for the Worlds?

“Yes, probably – the Vuelta is good preparation and then I have one race back in the Czech Republic between Madrid and the Worlds.”

And the winner is?

“Rodriguez seems to be coming back in the third week like he did in the Tour but Horner is very strong; it’s between those two and Valverde and Nibali – it might all come down to what happens on the Angliru on Saturday . . .”

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

Related Articles

La Vuelta a España 2014 – Stage 6; Benalmadena – Cumbres Verdes (La Zubia), 157.7 km. Alessandro Valverde Takes Over

Alessandro Valverde was hugely impressive – not the shadow of himself we saw in the last week of the Tour. It’s like Robert Millar said; ‘there comes a day when you have to stop dreaming.’ That day was yesterday for many as we were reminded of the savagery of professional bike racing at the highest levels. There were no interlopers – just the best of the best, all of the pre-race favourites trying their best to waste each other on that horrible grind to the line.

Michael Mørkøv – It’s time to stop calling him a “Six Day Star”

The last time we spoke to Danish six day star Michael Mørkøv was back in June after he’d pulled off a brilliant but unexpected win in the Danish Elite Road race Championships for his Saxo-Tinkoff team. And he’s done it again – this time taking a beautiful stage win in the Vuelta, out sprinting the entire peloton to win Stage Six on the day when Tony Martin (QuickStep & Germany) came close to pulling off what would have been one of the all time great Grand Tour stage wins.

Hugh Carthy – “I knew with more racing and appropriate rest I’d get stronger”

Englishman Hugh Carthy (EF Pro Cycling) took his first Grand Tour win on Stage 12 of La Vuelta a España yesterday, attacking just outside the final kilometer of the legendary Alto de l'Angliru, soloing to the finish in a fantastic display of measured, determined riding.

La Vuelta a España, Stage 16: Shooting the Breeze in Gijón

Santander airport, the queues are horrible and we'll have another one for the Stansted to Prestwick flight, no doubt. After yesterday's grim weather we're bathed in beautiful sunshine today. The stage start was in Gijón so we rattled up from Cangas de Onis for our last look at the 2010 Vuelta.

La Vuelta a España 2014 – Stage 10; Monasterio de Veruela – Borja (ITT), 34.5 km. Nairo Crashes, Contador Leads

Alberto Contador Velasco (Tinkoff & Spain) pulled on the red jersey, raised his bouquet to his adoring fans in Borja then offered his clenched right fist up to his chest. The man has a big heart in there, for sure – all that was missing was Kiss pumping on the PA, ‘Back in the New York Groove,’ the line which goes; ‘this place was meant for me!’

The VeloVeritas Years – 2010: Barredo First to Lagos de Covadonga

VeloVeritas's soothsayer Viktor would say; 'It's just a big hill!' But if you've ever been up at the Lagos de Covadonga then you'll know there's much more to it than that. High on the bleak moor which is skirted by the parcours, back in the year 722 AD the Asturian King, Pelagius defeated the hitherto invulnerable Moors (Arabs we'd call them now) who ruled Spain at that time at the Battle of Covadonga.

At Random

Grenoble Six Day 2006 – Third Night and Franco Marvulli is stressed

Sometimes, you wonder why you are doing this - OK, it's great being around guys like Franco Marvulli and having an insight into the inner-sanctum, but it's hard work, often boring and stressed guys aren't fun to be around.

Le Tour de France 2014 – Stage 14; Grenoble – Risoul, 177 km. Rafal Majka Magic

Alberto Contador's withdrawal was a huge shock to the Tinkoff team and immediately after it Michael Rogers said; “It’s the first stage without Alberto, and the sadness is not just something we can leave at the rest day hotel. But we have a strong team and we’re all in a good condition. So we’ll be setting new goals and ambitions and shift our focus to taking home stage wins. Cue Rafal Majka.”

Neah Evans – European Team Pursuit Champion

If you check the palmares websites, Neah Evans' name first pops up in 2015 – just four years later and she’s performing at world level in ladies track cycling as part of the GB ladies team pursuit squad; with her most recent successes coming in the European Team Pursuit Championships and Glasgow World Cup where her squad took gold on both occasions.

Jack Bauer – Tour Talk with Garmin’s Kiwi Star

Forget stories of barbed wire fences; that’s not what did the damage to our favourite Tour rider, Jack Bauer’s face. We know what really happened on stage 19 but gave our word to Jack that we’d keep schtum – suffice to say that it was a sore one and not his fault.

Archie Speed

It’s with great sadness that VeloVeritas records the passing of one of the cornerstones of Fife time trialling; Archibald Speed – better known as ‘Archie.’ A doubly sad situation in light of the fact that it’s only a matter of weeks since we penned our tribute to his son Alistair, the victim of a fatal rear-end impact from a Vauxhall Corsa on the Strathmiglo road, whilst out for a run on his bike.

Alasdair MacLennan – the SC President Looks Back at the Glasgow Games

As the Commonwealth Games fade in our memory to be replaced by The Vuelta and Worlds we thought there should be a ‘last word’ on the biggest week of cycle sport in Scotland’s history. And who better to provide it than Scottish Cycling President, Alasdair MacLennan who kindly agreed to share his thoughts with VeloVeritas.