Petr Vakoč loves reading, business and cycling. Although most professional riders pull out of their studies once they sign a contract with a WorldTour team, the winner of stage 2 in the Tour of Poland on Monday, and new leader of the general classification, has decided to run his sports career and complete his bachelor meanwhile.
His student's status is not only a personal choice for his balance and long-term projects but it also gives the Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider the opportunity to claim his first successes this year. Last month, Vakoc won the gold medal in both in the time trial and road race at the University World Championships, in Jelenia Gora (Poland).
"It's very possible to balance cycling and studies in my schedule, and it's also very profitable for my future," he tells Cyclingnews.
The pro rider works at least one hour per day on his studies in economy of small and medium size business, including in his hotel room after the races. At the Tour of Poland he certainly didn't bring any homework, enjoying his "vacation" as a student, but he usually after his day as a cyclists, Vakoc starts his second day of student in the evenings
"Some teachers support me, some others don't like sport and would like to see me full time at the university," explains "Vaki", who managed to get flexible working hours at the Prague University, Czech Republic, in his home city. He plans to complete his degree within about four years – he expects to graduate "in one year to one-year-and-half."
Vakoc started at university in 2012 after he's spent one season at the World Cycling Centre, in Aigle (Switzerland). He raced then for the French club of CC Etupes, as a team-mate of Warren Barguil (now pro with Giant-Shimano). He wasn't very successful there due to his lack of adaptation and a broken collarbone. However he sent a letter last winter with all his best wishes, all in French, to his ex-team: "After that time [with you], my passion for cycling has increased and I was finally sure, without any doubt, that I could keep racing and turn professional."
"Writing such a letter is pretty much unusual in cycling and it shows how Petr is smart," says CC Etupes' sport director, Jérôme Gannat.
After his French experience, Vakoc was hired by his countryman René Andrle to Continental squad Etixx-IHNed, the feeder team of Omega Pharma. "That was very good to be part of this team because you had the motivation to jump into the WorldTour group," says the Czech pro cyclist. "Etixx was a similar structure to Omega Pharma-Quick Step, we applied the same kind of tactics and we also shared the training camps with the WorldTour riders."
After his cycling career, Vakoc would like "to start a business, probably related to cycling."
However he's already running an e-shop with his brother, which sells cycling books in original languages (mostly English). This project blends Vakoc's passions for cycling, commerce and reading.
"I read quite a lot," he says. "I like in particular biographies, about athletes or businessmen." His last book? The life of his team mate Mark Cavendish, of course.