König targeting podium at Giro d'Italia

Team Sky rider suffering in Oman heat

Leopold König (Team Sky) has never had anything less than a top 10 in any Grand Tour he's competed in and he's looking to step it up a notch when he rides the Giro d'Italia later this season. König will race the Giro for the first time in May, where he hopes to compete in a shared leadership role with Richie Porte. After showing he's more than capable to hold his own at last year's Tour de France, he believes that he can go even better this time around.

"It's simple, if you look at my past results I got ninth and seventh so top five maybe or podium," he said before adding with a smile. "The best would be getting first and second in the Giro.

"I don't want to put the pressure on myself, I'm just having fun. You need to have higher goals than maybe you can achieve then there is more of a probability that they will happen than if you set a goal of top 20."

König was meant to make his Grand Tour debut with NetApp at the 2012 Giro d'Italia but missed it through illness and had to wait until the following year's Vuelta a España, where he placed ninth in the general classification and won stage eight. He made his first appearance at the Tour de France last season and finished seventh, just over 14 minutes behind race winner Vincenzo Nibali.

He is likely to return to the Tour this year as a domestique for Chris Froome and believes that time between the Tour and the Giro will be plenty for him to recover. "There is more than one month so for me it is more than enough," he said. "It's another step in my career, doing the two Grand Tours because I think normally my body is built like it needs to be under pressure and to be under big loads of racing and training.

"I think that it can suit me to do one race as a co-leader and one race as a helper. The learning process is really important."

The heat is rising
König is currently riding at the Tour of Oman, his second race of the season after competing at the Mallorca Challenge. The Team Sky rider was one of several riders that lost out on the second stage of the Tour of Oman. König suffered in the sweltering heat that has embraced the peloton all week, and looked decidedly worse for wear as he had to pull up twice en-route from the finish line to the team car.

"My body didn't let me go on the limit," he explained. "I know from the past that the first days in the heat are quite hard for me before I get adapted to it. I'm not concerned... I remember from the Tour of California I blew up one day and then a few days later I won a stage in the same heat."

"I think that we did a really good training block in the winter and even now before the race we did really good training. I think that for the coming races that I am really confident with my form."

There are still three days of racing in the heat for the peloton, with the thermometer set to rise for the crucial Green Mountain stage. Team Sky's best placed rider on the general classification is fellow new signing Wout Poels, who is 55 seconds down after finishing in the following group on day two. König believes that he can help the Belgian to a strong position in the overall standings and hasn't disregarded a shot at the stage victory for himself.

"I'm just taking it easy day by day. Now I can only enjoy the race. If I'm strong enough to help Wout or if I'm super strong I can try for a stage but it's all open," he explained. "There were quite a lot of riders in the front group but more than half of them were just the classics riders, so they're not going to be there tomorrow.

"There is like five riders who can do it up Green Mountain but for Wout a top 10 is still a possibility. We still have the hardest stages ahead so we still have some cards to play."

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