The Groupama-FDJ cycling team and Stefan Küng ended their 2022 season in the best possible way on Sunday, in Les Herbiers. On the 40th edition of the Chrono des Nations, the Swiss rider showed he was still very focused and managed to beat the world champion Tobias Foss to claim victory and keep his title. Doing so, he enabled Groupama-FDJ to reach the 20-victory mark in the very last racing day of the year.
“A big fight with Foss”, Nicolas Boisson
Last event of the French cycling calendar, the Chrono des Nations was also the last race of the season for Groupama-FDJ and its development team. In Les Herbiers, a week after leading out Arnaud Démare to the win in Paris-Tours, Stefan Küng lined up as the defending champion. “As a time trial specialist, Stefan was very motivated to go for the victory”, explained Nicolas Boisson, who followed him in Vendée. “Not only because he won last year and he always gives much importance to this race, but above all because we could expect a nice duel with Tobias Foss”. The battle was to take place on a route “98% similar” to that of the previous edition, which therefore included some short climbs over 45.430 kilometres of racing. The Swiss rider started at 3:26 p.m., two minutes after his Norwegian rival, and the two men then battled for almost an hour. “It was a big fight”, said Nicolas. “Stefan decided to start a little slower than last year. At the first checkpoint, he was six seconds behind Foss, and two seconds behind at the second intermediate. Eventually, he won by two and a half seconds. We were always under Foss’ pressure. We had the time splits, I didn’t lie to Stefan about them, and it proved to be a serious battle”.
“It makes me want to start 2023 already”, Stefan Küng
The former European champion was therefore able to conquer his third personal win of the season. “People sometimes say there are no stakes at the Chrono des Nations, but that was clearly not true yesterday”, said Nicolas. “Everyone had put the means into it, with a bus, a truck, a dedicated staff. It’s a really important race. Foss was riding with his world champion jersey and therefore really wanted to win, while Stefan wanted to take his revenge”. “It’s nice to finish on a high, with a victory, and to take small revenge from the world championship”, confirmed Stefan. “It’s a very nice event, and the level was very high this year so that gives even more value to this victory. It also allows me to enter the off-season in a good way. Even if I really want to enjoy the holidays with my family, it makes me want to start 2023 already. Anyway, this is the conclusion of a very good and very consistent season from a personal point of view. It’s motivating for the future. We noticed again today (yesterday, editor’s note) that it was very close, so we will continue to work, especially on the time trial. We’re not going to rest on our laurels.” As for the Groupama-FDJ organization, it closed this 2022 season with a 20th victory. “It’s a good mark to reach”, concluded Nicolas. “It’s always nice to finish with a victory and it completes a great season. Bruno finished fifth, which is a great performance, and Clément continues to gain experience on this type of effort. Above all, the whole team was really committed, from the juniors with Titouan Fontaine, through the U23s with Enzo and Eddy up until the three Elite riders. Everyone was gathered in the same hotel, and we had associated the logistical means. We now hope to start 2023 as we finished 2022”.