Czech cyclist in yellow jersey. This hasn’t happened in a big race for a long time

Czech road cyclists don’t have it easy in the giant world competition. Nevertheless, they have already achieved considerable success over the past 30 years. Just a selection of the greatest – Ján Svorada has 11 Grand Tour stage wins. Zdeněk Štybar has won three major classics and a stage in the Tour de France. Jan Hirt and Josef Černý won stages in the Giro d’Italia, Leopold König once in the Vuelta.

Roman Kreuziger has won two major classics and two major stage races – the Tour de Suisse (2008) and the Tour de Romandie (2009). He was the last to race the World Tour in yellow since the Czech Republic – 14 years ago. For the sake of precision, let’s add that ten years ago, Zdeněk Štybar won the current Benelux Tour (then Eneco Tour), but he only wore the winner’s red jersey after the end of the last stage.

Now Josef Černý, one of the best Czech cyclists of recent years, has succeeded. The fierce runner from Frýdek-Místek was of course a bit lucky. He is a time trial specialist, and the time trial was the first stage of this year’s Romandia. He won it, and that’s why he put on the yellow jersey on Wednesday. The fact that it is only for one day does not change the success.

Even that Tuesday victory at Le Bouveret at the end of Lake Geneva was a small miracle. Josef Černý is a great time trialist, but he certainly wasn’t one of the big favourites. However, he completed the short, flat “sprinter” track in seven minutes and 25 seconds, one second faster than second and third.

The Tour de Romandie is a sort of rehearsal for the next Giro. And even if the two big favorites of the Grand Tour of Italy are not there (Primož Roglič and Remco Evenepoel), he still has a very solid peloton, including great time trials.

Černý thus managed to beat the current time trial world champion Nor Tobias Foss (Jumbo Visma), Remi Cavagna (Soudal Quick-Step), Nico Denz (Bora hansgrohe), Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadier) and even Mikkel Bjerg (UAE Team Emirates). He can rightly consider the victory and the recovery of the yellow jersey as one of the greatest achievements of his career.

For the Czech competitor, this is the first victory in the time trial of the World Tour and the second in the WT stage (Giro 2020).

Černý spent six years in the Polish team CCC. He won the Giro stage mentioned in his jersey in 2020. This helped him move to Quick-Step, where he has a contract until the end of 2023, after the sudden collapse of the stable.

He immediately succeeded in the Vuelta in 2021. He took fifth and fourth places in the time trials and helped Fabio Jakobsen a lot in the green jersey.

Even his victory on Tuesday is significant for the Belgian team. This year, Quick-Step is not doing as well as last year. In the great classics, only Remco Evenepoel managed to win at the Liège-Bastogne-Liège monument, and the team did not collect many first places even in the stages.

“Pepa is an autodidact, but a great partner and a great person,” former top Czech cyclist Lubor Tesař told Seznam Zpravám. “Hardworking, great time trial. After joining Soudal Quick-Step, he is certainly helped by the great material and the fact that he is part of a good team. Specifically here in Switzerland, he knew that he had a chance to get a good result, that he could give it his all. In a team like Soudal, some time trials, especially in the second part of the stage, cannot go all the way to be available to the team manager in the following days.Also, the team managers sometimes slow down their leaders a bit in the opening city time trials, as they are full of turns and dangerous. And all this could work in favor of Černá”, underlined Lubor Tesař.

John Robinson

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