In Sports News this Monday: Czech riders at Tour de France fall behind; Czechs win two golds and a bronze at European canoeing championships; and Russia’s KHL keeps drawing Czech players, and a referee.
Two Czech riders competing at this year’s Tour de France are so far lagging behind their own expectations. After nine stages of the race, Leopold König of the Netapp-Endura team is ranked 28th overall while his team colleague Jan Bárta is 106th. After several falls in previous stages of the tour, the 26-year-old König arrived at the finish line in Mulhouse with the main peloton and is now 9 minutes and 9 seconds behind the leader, the Frenchman Tony Gallopin.
However, another of Leopold König’s teammates, Tiago Machado of Portugal, is ranked third overall after he joined a breakaway and finished 10th. König says the team’s strategy was to get at least one rider to the front of the race.
“I was telling the guys we should ride more aggressively, and we wanted to take part in every breakaway. Jose Mendez and I were in the first group that got away, and Tiago was in the other one. I wanted to be there as well but it’s good that we had at least one rider there. Having no one would be worse.”
Leopold König now says he will do his best to move up the peloton in one of the upcoming stages to try and finish in the top fifteen at his debut Tour de France.
The Czech team won two gold and one bronze medal at the European championships held in the German city of Brandenburg an der Havel. On Sunday, Czechs Daniel Havel, Lukáš Trefil, Josef Dostál and Jan Štěrba finished first in the men’s four-person kayak 1,000 metre event on Sunday, beating Slovakia in second place by 0.355 second. One of the defending champions, Jan Štěrba, described the race for Czech Radio.
“It was a difficult race because we did not start off that well; we fell behind the other kayaks and had to work hard in the second half. It was exhausting towards the end but we are of course very happy that we managed to defend the title, albeit by such a small margin.”
The other gold came from Martin Fuksa who won the men’s 500 canoe event on Sunday. On Saturday, Czechs Jaroslav Radoň and Filip Dvořák took bronze in 1,000-metre double canoe race.
Although the new season of the Russia-centred Kontinental Hockey League does not kick off until September, it continues to draw Czech players. Most recently, Vladimír Sobotka has decided to leave the NHL amidst salary disputes with his club, the Saint Louis Blues, and has signed a three-year contract with the KHL’s Avantgard Omsk.
The captain of the collapsed Czech-based club Lev Praha, Jiří Novotný, has signed a deal with Jaroslavl, and several other players are also reportedly trying to get contracts in the lucrative league.
But it’s not just Czech players who will be skating on KHL ice next season as a top Czech hockey referee, Antonín Jeřábek, will likely work for the league as well. The respected 32-year-old referee told the news website idnes.cz he accepted the league’s offer, and would sign a contract with the KHL by the end of the month.