Tour of Austria: Interview with Leo Koenig
Right before the opening stage of the Tour of Austria, we spoke with Leo Koenig who ranked 2nd overall at last years tour. Find out about his ambitions this year.
Last year you finished the Tour of Austria in second place. So your goal this year must be to win it, right?
Ideally yes, but since I was injured in the first half of the season, I would be happy to compete in the best way I can without any pain.
Let’s have a look at your season so far. You should have been your team’s captain for the Giro d’Italia, but then you got injured. What happened?
I started to have problems with my lower back last year. Over the winter period I did everything possible to figure out what the problem was, but I couldn’t work it out. Nobody, not even the best doctors and physios, could help me, so I had to give up the chance to start in Giro.
After missing the Giro, is the Tour of Austria now the highlight of your season?
After seven months of suffering, this is my first real goal of the season and I’m really looking forward to it.
Have you already looked at the stage plan? There are some very difficult mountain stages. How hard will it be?
I studied all the stages as soon as they’d been announced and I’m pretty excited about the route. It´s very simillar to last year so it´s perfect.
The second stage with the summit finish at the Kitzbüheler Horn will be very important for the general classification. How does the climb suit you?
I’ve done it once before and I was on the podium immediately afterwards so I must like it!
What are the particular difficulties about the Kitzbüheler Horn? Do you think you can win this stage?
Kitzbüheler Horn is a really tough climb and you have to ride smart. If you try to ride smart but you´re not in the best shape you won’t achieve a good result. I haven´t done a summit finish since my break so I´m not sure about my abilities to do such a steep climb, but of course I´ll try to win.
Besides the Kitzbüheler Horn, the fifth stage is very interesting. It offers a summit finish at the Sonntagsberg, a short but steep climb. What do you think of this stage? Will it be decisive for the general classification?
It's not a decisive one but could play a role: if somebody from GC has a bad day you could lose valueable seconds. Perhaps this stage will be more important than the one with the Glockner.
The final decision will be made at the time trial in Podersdorf. Last year you finished 16th at this stage. Are you good at time trialing? Have you practised it in particular?
I’m not a real time trialist but after several stages in tours I’m not bad. Despite major technical problems, I came about 20th in the last time trial I did in Bayern Rundfahrt, so I’m pretty confident about the TT.
With Daniel Schorn and Matthias Brändle you also have two Austrian team mates. What can they achieve at the Tour?
Both riders proved this year that they’re able to achieve great results so I have no doubt that they’ll score a stage win: Daniel in a bunch sprint or in reduced bunch sprint and Matthias in a breakaway group.
Last but not least: Compared to other cycling tours, how do you like the Tour of Austria in general?
It’s the kind of race you compare with Tour, Giro, Vuelta or Suisse. It has everything you need for a top stage race: a summit finish, mountain stages, time trial and the final stage in a capital city. With such a history and perfect organisation you can be proud to ride in it and I like it.