Stefan Küng was on his terrain this Sunday for the closing time trial of the Tour de Romandie. However, the European champion against the clock did not find himself in the best possible conditions to fight for the first places. Two days after his crash, the 27-year-old Swiss rider suffered from poor weather conditions. He eventually took 15th on the day and thus put an end to his first part of the season. Just outside the top-20 overall, Sébastien Reichenbach and Matteo Badilatti will head towards the Giro in the coming days.
“It almost looked like the cloud was following him”, Yvon Madiot
At 12:30pm this Sunday, Fabian Lienhard opened… the closing time trial of the Tour de Romandie for the Groupama-FDJ cycling team. Sixteen kilometres made up this quite short TT, which also included several uphill sections and a cobbled climb just after the start. Shortly before 1pm, Jake Stewart also got underway and established a solid provisional ninth time on the line (36th at the end of the stage, editor’s note). “It was not bad at all for him,” said Yvon Madiot. “Of course he started on dry roads, but he still did a good time trial. He is proving once again that he does have qualities for this, and he is taking a liking to it”. Starting just before the time trial world champion Filippo Ganna, the Briton even joked later: “I told myself that if I wasn’t caught by him, it would be a good day… Turns out it was.” As for Stefan Küng, he lined up in Fribourg with real ambitions today, but the Swiss and European time trial champion was unable to achieve them. “It was a tough course,” he said first. “Due to my crash two days ago, I also felt that I was struggling to get into the right pace. Moreover, a hail shower caught me halfway through. There was nothing I could do today. You feel early enough if you’re on the right track or not. I felt I was not so great today, so I took even less risk”. “He still did seven kilometers with a hail shower”, argued Yvon. “We knew it was dead from then on. It almost looked like the cloud was following him. He started when there was the worst weather, there’s not much that can be done about it. The coin did not fall on the right side for us. He couldn’t compete with the others today”.
“The first part of my season still is satisfying”, Stefan Küng
After his overall victory on the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, the Swiss came on home soil with big goals this week. He eventually ended the event with two top 15s – in the prologue and the time trial – and a little bitterness. “I still think I had a real chance to win in Estevayer on Friday,” Stefan said. “The crash also had an impact on today’s performance, but it’s all part of the sport. I was in good shape here, unfortunately that was not enough, but the first part of my season still is satisfying. I will now take a little break and get ready for the big upcoming goals”. When taking stock of this 2021 Tour de Romandie, Yvon Madiot confessed: “We are a bit disappointed, because knowing that it would be difficult for the GC, we were hoping for a stage win. That being said, all the other teams and all the other riders had that same goal. We just have small regrets about Stefan’s crash”. As for Sébastien Reichenbach and Matteo Badilatti, 23rd and 24th respectively in the overall, they were able to get some racing days in the legs a week prior to the Giro d’Italia. “They have one last small step to make in order to reach their best condition, but they certainly are on the right track,” said Yvon.