In the last two years Czech road bike racer Roman Kreuziger, who rides for Team Astana, finished in the top 10 in the world’s most prestigious cycling ‘ordeal’, the Tour de France. 2011, though, won’t see a three-peat. After a tough first week in which he suffered several crashes, and a second in which he languished, Kreuziger is currently in just 112th spot. Now his only real option remaining is to make a mark in Stage 17 on Wednesday, before the race moves to steeper heights in the Italian Alps.
Two years in a row Roman Kreuziger finished ninth in Le Tour, the best finish by a Czech cyclist ever in the famous race. But 2011 will see nothing similar: after 16 stages the 25-year-old Czech rider, who has suffered plenty of bad luck this year, languished only in 112th spot. In the 2011 Tour, his and other team members’ main aim was to help leader Alexander Vinokourov shoot for the title, but Vinokourov himself suffered a bad crash in which he broke his right femur, putting him out. While Kreuziger has fought on, the rider’s goal has now changed: no longer to finish among the top competitors, but to at least try and win a stage. Tomáš Kohout is a Czech Radio journalist reporting on the Tour from the Italian Alps.
“This year Kreuziger’s main goal was to help his Kazakhstani leader, but of course he has since gone out. So, now the Czech rider chose another goal, rather than fall into depression before the race was even over. The main goal now is to win at least one stage.”
Realistically, Kreuziger’s only chance is Stage 17 this Wednesday – after that the option moves out of reach. Kreuziger is an excellent all-around racer, not a climbing specialist; Czech Radio reporter Tomáš Kohout again:
“Now we are in the Alps but not yet the highest stages. So basically his last chance is today.”
RP: The Tour de France has been described as the most gruelling of races and in many ways it’s an accomplishment just to finish. Do you think he’ll see it through and what kind of position could that leave him in for next year?
“It’s hard to say because there are a lot of changes ahead for Team Astana. Now is the time when teams are looking for riders and new contracts and some include teams like HTC Highroad. There are also new cyclists looking for new jobs and in Astana Vinokourov has retired, so I think that there are changes ahead and Kreuziger will have to fight for the position of team leader.”
Still, says Tomáš Kohout, Kreuziger has the necessary skills and talent – he only has to show more of what he’s got.
“He’s only 25 and I think that his best results still lie ahead. The average age when a cyclist peaks is 28 or older; I guess that he has time enough. On the other hand, he is at an age when he should show something convincing.”
The Tour de France wraps up on the Champs-Élysées in Paris on Sunday.
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