Leopold König (NetApp-Endura) came through the first Alpine test of the Tour de France with flying colours and moved himself into the top 10 in the general classification. König finished third on the day to slip into 10th and revive his GC hopes.
"(It was) the first true summit finish – there was no place to hide today," König said after the stage. "In any case I wanted to ride on attack, but in the end I started the attack a bit sooner than I had meant to. I felt really good in the situation, so I tried it.”
König, who is making his debut at the race, had a tricky ride up to the first rest day. The 26-year-old was caught up in the stage 8 crash that would ultimately spell the end of Andrew Talansky’s (Garmin-Sharp) Tour de France ambitions. He lost three minutes on that day, after having to wait longer than he would have liked for a bike changed, added to the time he lost on the cobbles on stage 5. It seemed like an end to his hopes of matching his ninth place in last year’s Vuelta a España. However, that is a real possibility as he sits just a second behind Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) in the general classification.
The Czech rider made it away on the final climb and was soon joined by Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) and race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana). “I knew I just had to give it everything I had up until the end. Of course I would have liked to have won the stage, but competing against Nibali is difficult. That's why I'm absolutely happy with the result,” said König.
He looked comfortable in the illustrious company, but didn’t have the legs to follow the yellow jersey. Majka out-kicked him for second place, but the result is a brief demonstration of what he can do in the mountains. Saturday’s stage 14 will be another chance for the NetApp-Endura rider to go for gold, as the race takes on its next Alpine climbs.