Leopold König's stage win on Saturday at the Vuelta a España made history on two fronts as it marked the Czech's as well as his NetApp-Endura team's first victory in a Grand Tour stage. Similar to his victory in the queen stage to Mt. Diablo at the Amgen Tour of California earlier this season, König stayed well positioned up the finishing climb of Alto Peñas Blancas before striking out on his own in the finale.
"This is for sure incredible and I am more than happy," said König. "I told the team this morning that I want to win this stage and asked for the support of the whole team. The guys were amazing. They had to stand up against the whole peloton and we did it. I am proud that we realized the victory together."
The Pro Continental squad made their Grand Tour debut last season at the Giro d'Italia and after just two missed opportunities for victory in Italy they wanted to make the most of their second wildcard Grand Tour invite.
"That was so important for us. Now everyone realizes that we are able to play our cards," said König. "Leaving today's victory behind me, I will focus on this tough stage tomorrow because it is a new opportunity and we are here to take all opportunities.
"I want to repay the team for its great work and of course the Vuelta organization for trusting us with a wildcard."
Team manager Ralph Dek was naturally ecstatic with the win, noting that all of their pre-Vuelta paid huge dividends on Saturday.
"We seriously prepared for this highlight of the season and invested in training camps and inspections of the climbs. That paid off today.
"Our goal was a stage win. To take the pressure off the team, we wanted to achieve this goal as soon as possible. Leo attempted it on the second day and just barely fell short.
"Today was a new opportunity, which was why we worked the entire day. Now we can ride with ease. Everything that happens now is an encore for our guys."