On the last stage of his national tour, this Sunday, Stefan Küng was keen to show off his Swiss champion’s jersey one last time. So that’s what he did by entering the day’s breakaway, although the latter couldn’t stay away from the bunch in what was a big mountain stage. However, with a stage victory, a stage podium and two days in yellow, the Swiss week still remains very successful for the Groupama-FDJ cycling team.
With three big climbs featuring on the 160 kilometers around Andermatt, the menu for the last stage of the Tour de Suisse was quite a tough one. Before getting to the Gotthardpass, final climb of the day, the riders first had to go over the Oberalppass and the Lukmanierpass in the first part of the stage. In this explosive, uphill start, the attacks obviously came from all over the place and the bunch therefore quickly reduced. Wout Poels crossed the first summit in the lead but then saw many riders bridging across, including Stefan Küng before the Lukmanierpass. “They did part of the day in this 10-man group up front,” Franck Pineau said. “However, the yellow jersey never gave them more than 2’30. Evidently, they were caught on the last climb, but Stefan had the fighting spirit until the end of this Tour de Suisse. He has been professional all week, there is nothing to complain about”. “Today was my last race with my Swiss champion jersey of the road race,” recalled the European time trial champion. “I obviously wanted to finish this Tour de Suisse in a good way. I felt good at the start so I managed to get into the breakaway. Unfortunately the collaboration was not very good and the headwind in the long valley towards the final climb made things even more complicated. I followed a few moves when the attacks started, but once we got caught, the goal was to finish the day not too exhausted in anticipation of the next goals. Anyway, it was a great day of cycling, with superb weather”.
“This is a very, very good Tour de Suisse for me”, Stefan Küng
The Swiss rider was caught in the first part of the Gotthardpass while his fellow countryman Matteo Badilatti tried to hold on to the yellow jersey group as much as possible. He eventually crossed the line in 26th position, a bit more than three minutes behind stage winner Gino Mäder and yellow jersey Richard Carapaz. “He did everything he could, but he’s logically starting to feel tired,” said Franck. “He rode the Tour de Romandie, the Giro and then the Tour de Suisse. He’s coming at the end of a shape cycle.” Stefan Küng is just starting his own. “This is a very, very good Tour de Suisse for me,” added the Swiss man. “I was able to win a stage, I spent two stages in yellow, I did a good time trial yesterday and I can see that the shape is improving. I’m on the right track and in the right timing for the Tour and the rest”. In addition to Swiss champion’s results, the Groupama-FDJ cycling team also took a stage podium thanks to Benjamin Thomas during the week. “If I had been told starting the race that we would have this record in the end, I would have signed straight away,” Franck said. “We always want more, but all the guys did a good job. We need to remember the most important things. The week went very well, especially for Stefan. Benjamin has shown great things ahead of the championships and I think Jake will continue to improve as well. Everything is going in the right direction”.