European Games: Vakoc Earns Bronze!
Etixx - Quick-Step rider Petr Vakoc, competing for the Czech Republic, finished 3rd behind Luis Leon Sanchez (Spain) and Andriy Grivko (Ukraine) in the 215.8km road race of the European Games that finished in Freedom Square on Sunday.
The race was decided out of an escape group, with Spanish teammate Jesus Herrada providing Sanchez with a crucial leadout before he launched with about 100m to go.
The bronze medal for Vakoc is a big accomplishment for the young rider of Etixx - Quick-Step, as he has only been racing as a professional for two seasons. He was 2nd in the 2013 European U23 Championship Road Race. The 22-year-old rider opened his professional palmares with a Tour de Pologne victory in Stage 2 of 2014, after a perfectly timed attack. He also took silver in the Czech Road Championship behind teammate Zdenek Stybar. In 2015 Vakoc raced the Giro d'Italia for the first time, and he was able to finish the three week grand tour in his first participation.
"Today was a super hard race," Vakoc said. "The parcours was hard, including a section with the cobblestones, and the pace was always high. In the last 4 or 5 laps we accelerated even more. I tried to go away on one of the last laps, but the action didn't work as I planned. So I waited until the last lap and I accelerated on the last climb. Herrada, Grivko, Sanchez, and I went together to the line ahead of the peloton, but for the sprint I didn't have the legs to contest the victory. But in any case I am super happy about this race, because it is a medal for my nation, which was the 4th in all the European Games for the Czech Republic. So I am proud about my bronze medal. The entire experience was nice. It was like a small Olympic Games. In 2016 I really hope to be a part of the selection for the Czech Republic in Rio. It would be a dream and I will try to do my best to be there. As for the European Games, I didn't know what to expect from a race like that but now I am happy I did it, and was prepared to perform well there after a hard race like the Giro. I will come bak immediately to the Czech republic and ride both the time trial and road national championships. My goal is to try to do well there. It won't be easy with a lot of good riders, but I will try my best."
Photo credit: Czech Olympic Committee