The French gave a grandstand performance at the Peace Race, which ran from the 8th to 11th June. Antoine Huby celebrated overall victory on this prestigious stage race, which is part of the Nations' Cup U23 series, while his compatriot, Pierre Gautherat, dominated the first two stages and went into the third stage in the race leader’s yellow jersey. “France, Norway and Denmark had the strongest teams. They were in a different league from the others," commented Leopold König, director of the Peace Race and also of July’s Czech Tour.
How would you evaluate this year’s U23 Peace Race-Grand Prix Jeseníky?
The first two days were somewhat weather affected. After the rain, the descents were wet and therefore dangerous. The initial stage was a nervous affair with riders falling. However, the next two stages turned out perfect even from the weather perspective. In terms of sport, we saw an exciting battle right to the end, and the winner was really only decided in Jeseník. The race leader and eventual winner, Antoine Huby, started the final stage with a slim lead. However, France and Denmark took care of the last stage and rode to the finish line in a small group, with the winner decided in a final sprint.
It was in the final stage that the Czech cyclists achieved their best result of the race. Milan Kadlec finished second, and Jakub Ťoupalík finished fourth on Sunday. How did the home team perform in your eyes?
It is a shame that in the famous atmosphere surrounding the finish in Jeseník, the boys did not claim a stage victory. However, Milan Kadlec's second place is also a great result. Czech cyclists were not so high in the overall standings, but I think they have every right to feel good about their performance.
Who put in the most noteworthy performance in your eyes?
The strength of the French team was unique. They controlled the race. They wore the yellow jersey every day. For me, together with Norway and Denmark, it was the strongest team. These three teams controlled each stage and you could see that they were a cut above the rest.
Who do you think has the potential to be seen on the World Tour soon?
I think Antoine Huby. He has the talent, and he will soon be signed up by one of the elite teams.
In six weeks, the Czech Tour will start in Prostějov. Was the Peace Race a good dry run?
Perfect. If it wasn't for the weather, we wouldn't have had a problem. There were only a few crashes during the race. The Czech Tour will be in a different race. The stages will take place in the hills of the Beskydy and Jeseník Mountains, including the plains around Prostějov and Uničov, and the conclusion on the legendary Ecce Homo climb in Šternberk. It will be a different league with the participation of the world's best teams.
Is it clearer now which World Tour teams will participate?
Bora-hansgrohe, Intermaché Circus Wanty and also the winning team from last year's Tour de France, Jumbo Visma, will participate. Among the Czech competitors, spectators can look forward to Karel Vacek of the Corratec team, and Tomáš Bárta and Michael Schlegel in the colours of Spanish team Caja Rural.