In Sports News this Monday: Czech König finishes seventh overall in debut Tour de France – and is already looking forward to next year; champions Sparta win opening game of new soccer season while Plzeň draw puts pressure on manager Uhrin.
The Czech rider Leopold König has enjoyed a dream debut in the Tour de France, finishing seventh overall. The 26-year-old is only the second Czech to finish in the top 10 in the world’s most famous cycle race, after fifth place for Roman Kreuziger last year. What’s more König’s Germany-based team NetApp-Endura only got into the Tour de France on a wildcard invitation.
The Czech had suffered setbacks in the early stages but had a storming second half of the tour. He eventually climbed from ninth to seventh overall after passing out two Dutch riders from the Belkin team in the individual time-trial on the second last day, guaranteeing himself seventh spot ahead of Sunday’s traditional uncontested final stage.
“Of course I’m extremely happy, because I’ve succeeded in doing what I set out to do. I’d have been really annoyed if I hadn’t beaten those two and remained in ninth, meaning my placing would have been influenced by a fall and a bit of bad luck in the first week. Seventh place gives me great expectations for the future. Now I’m looking forward to more hard work and the next Tour.”
By the way, while König came fifth in Saturday’s stage 20, his teammate Jan Bárta came third – the first time ever that two Czechs finished in the first five in a stage of the Tour de France in its 101 year history. Bárta came 71st overall.
While teams in Europe’s major soccer leagues are still on pre-season tours and at training camps, it’s back to business here in the Czech Republic, with the 2014–2015 top flight season already underway. Friday’s curtain-raiser saw title holders Sparta Prague grind out a 2:1 away win over city rivals Bohemians 1905. The champion’s first goal came from former Bohemians striker Martin Nešpor, who was booed throughout by the home fans.
“To me it was disappointing because I played at all levels here from youth to A-team. I’ve given something to the club. Bohemka is the club of my heart and I’m sorry that some people didn’t clap me. But life goes on. They gave us a tough game and were on our backs the entire 90 minutes, so hats off to them. And I really wish them all the best for the future.”
Among the rest of the weekend’s action, Slavia Prague also got off to a winning start, beating Slovácko 2:1 away. However, the champions of two seasons ago, Viktoria Plzeň, could only manage a 2:2 draw at Příbram. After a poor end to last season, Plzeň have now gone five games without a win, prompting speculation that manager Dušan Uhrin Jr. could be the first managerial casualty this term.