​Leopold König: ‘I had chances with Team Sky every year… I don’t see it as missed years’

The Czech rider reflects on his years with Team Sky as he looks to recover from injury with Bora-Hansgrohe

Leopold König, who raced to seventh in the 2014 Tour de France, says that his years with Team Sky were not wasted.

The Czech Republic rider suffered in his final year of a two-year contract and left Sky to return to team NetApp for 2017. The team changed sponsors in the meantime to Bora-Hansgrohe and this season, advanced to the WorldTour.

“I do not see this time in Sky as some years that I missed because every year I had the opportunity to lead a Grand Tour, the Giro d’Italia or the Vuelta a España,” König told Cycling Weekly.

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“We won the Tour with Chris [Froome]. It was really great experience. I really had a chance with Sky every year. In the Giro, I improved in the GC and in the Vuelta, both me and Froomey just missed out on winning stage. Generally, it was really good experience.”

König prepared for the Tour of Turkey stage five, one of the last races of the 2017 season. He helped team-mate Sam Bennett win the last three stages.

Sky signed him for the 2015 season with the idea that he would lead the Giro d’Italia team or add additional firepower to Froome’s Tour charge.

He took over for Sky’s 2015 Giro team when Richie Porte abandoned and eventually placed sixth overall. In the Tour that year, he helped Froome win his second title.

Konig was part of Team Sky’s Tour de France winning team in 2015 (Watson)

“I tried to get results even in Team Sky,” König added. “I had chances and I was happy with them. In the end, I would have stayed in Team Sky if Bora had not come up with this project in the WorldTour. I would have stayed and I really loved the team.

“I understand the decisions that guys like Mikel Landa or Richie Porte are making, or maybe Geraint Thomas next year. I can understand. Had there not been any better project on offer for me, I would have stayed.”

Knee injury prevented König from riding by Landa’s side for the 2016 Giro. It stopped him again this year, and he has hardly raced in his new team colours with world champion team-mate Peter Sagan.

He raced only four days in the first six months of 2017 but now, with the season near its end, he appears fit again and is hungry to race.

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“I just need to try to come back from the knee jury. As always is the case, when you try to return to quickly, the pain comes back. The season actually felt short, and you find yourself at the end of the season and you almost did nothing,” continued König.

“This season was not what we expected but that’s sport with its ups and downs. This year was really down, basically all year. Hopefully, it’s getting better now. I can’t wait for the next season to start. I’ve never been so hungry and fresh for the races.”

König, 29, needs to sort out the 2018 season with team Bora-Hansgrohe. He would like to return to the Tour de France, but needs to plan with Polish star Rafal Majka.

“I still feel like I can do big things when I am healthy and now it’s about getting things in the right direction. Once it’s there, I will be back at my best because like I said, I have never been hungrier,” he explained.

“I still feel trust and support and in an ideal scenario, I would like to do the Tour de France again for the podium. It’s my goal for next year.”