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"We were ready to help Elia in the final sprint but I ended up giving Leo my wheel when he punctured with three laps to go. Then he punctured again with about 2.8km to go!"

Photo: Sirotti










31.05.2015 @ 22:24 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Leopold König secured sixth place overall at the 2015 Giro d'Italia following a thrilling three weeks of racing.


The final day concluded with seven nervous laps of a finishing circuit in the centre of Milan, with König shaking off not one but two late punctures to wrap up his best ever Grand Tour finish.


Team Sky hit the front late on in a bid to help set up Elia Viviani in the sprint but were forced to drop back on two occasions to pace König back to the bunch after a spate of punctures hit the peloton.


Chaos in the pack allowed two strong breakaway riders to contest the stage victory, with Viviani taking fifth from the bunch and seventh place across the line.  


Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) finished safely to clinch the maglia rosa and overall victory by a margin of one minute and 53 seconds over Fabio Aru (Astana). Mikel Landa (Astana) rounded out the podium 3:05 back, while König came home at 10:41 in his first ever Giro.


Iljo Keisse (Etixx-Quick-Step) and Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEdge) put up a spirited fight off the front in the break and could not believe their luck in the final kilometre as they contested the stage win. Keisse played it cool and waited for his rival to jump before taking a surprise victory.



After the stage Sports Director Kurt Asle Arvesen summed up the race, telling "We are pretty happy with the two stage wins we've got and we're right up there on GC with Leo. It's his best ever Grand Tour classification. He's happy and the team is happy.


"Naturally it was a shame that Richie had so much bad luck but we turned it around and we set new goals. The team worked well together and straight away they pulled together to work for Leo.


"Today the guys were in a perfect position with three laps to go but Leo got a puncture and we had to stop the team. Elia was left alone up front. The guys got back on and did a brilliant job but then he had another flat tyre! So two punctures in the last three laps for Leo was not the best way to finish but we made it!


"All the punctures from the teams meant it was completely crazy. Giant had a flat with (Luka) Mezgec. Then Trek didn't want to commit so circumstances made it play into the hands of two strong guys in the break."


After completing his 14th Grand Tour Bernhard Eisel admitted: "That was definitely one of the hardest ones!


"It was a really nice Giro. Super weather and even the course was good. It was just really hard. Every day a different team had a different idea. It was super fast. On GC there are guys like me who are six hours down. So we effectively did an extra day on the bike! It just shows how hard it was.


"In the end we took sixth place with Leo so we can be happy. We had a bit of an exciting day today with two punctures. We were ready to help Elia in the final sprint but I ended up giving Leo my wheel when he punctured with three laps to go. Then he punctured again with about 2.8km to go! He was able to get the same time but if it had happened a few hundred metres earlier he could have lost a spot on GC. So we were lucky but at the same time unlucky.


"But we've definitely had good three weeks. We've had a great group of people together here. Of course we've missed Richie in the last 10 days. But we've enjoyed it and suffered together."



The team enjoyed highs and lows across the three weeks. An early win on stage two for Viviani laid the foundations for a long stint in the red points jersey for the Italian.


Team leader Richie Porte looked strong as he followed the early GC attacks, but lost time through a wheel change and time penalty on stage 10. That bad luck intensified on stage 13 as a crash with 3.3km to go brought down Porte and König, leading to further time loss for both riders.


With injuries hampering Porte and ultimately forcing him out of the race there was still some joy on the stage 14 time trial courtesy of Vasil Kiryienka. The Belarusian stormed through the mammoth 59.4km test to secure another stage win - and his third at the Italian Grand Tour.


König gradually clawed his way up the standings, rising as high as fifth overall after some accomplished displays in the mountains. In just three Grand Tour appearances the 27 year old now has finishes of ninth, seventh and sixth.



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