Talent, hard work and dedication. Stefan Küng brought everything to make it big in cycling. But he had to go through below for a long time. Falls, injuries and Pfeiffer’s glandular fever slowed him down. In addition, there was the BMC team – it promoted the young Thurgauer first, but didn’t always trust him. At the end of 2018, Küng felt: it was time to change something. He moved to Groupama-FDJ in France. And lo and behold: Küng found his luck. “Everything fits here,” he says. His team boss Marc Madiot immediately thinks that he recently extended Küng’s contract until 2023.
In fact, Küng finds the warmth and trust that he missed at BMC in his new team. In just one season, he rose to the brains of the team – the Capitaine de Route, as they say in France. “This title fits quite well,” says Küng himself. Swiss national coach Marcello Albasini says: “Stefan is communicative, keen on details and very helpful. In addition, winning the World Cup bronze medal in 2019 gave him a lot of confidence. You believe him, you listen to him. Stefan is an alpha animal. »
Mistakes annoy him deeply
Küng’s role at Groupama-FDJ is clearly defined: in the one-day races he is not only a chief tactician, but often also a leader. He enjoys freedom, is allowed to drive on his own card. On the other hand, on tours, it is the extended arm of the sporting director. Who do you have to watch out for in the field? What to do if a teammate falls? How should you position yourself in cross winds? Küng is the contact and information point. “In certain situations, you need someone to tell you what to do,” says Küng.
In this captain role, Küng will lead his teammate Thibaut Pinot (30, Fri) to the first overall victory at the upcoming Tour de France (August 29 to September 20). The opponents are top class. From defending champion Egan Bernal to Chris Froome, from Geraint Thomas to Primoz Roglic, from Nairo Quintana to Tom Dumoulin – it takes a lot to win the Maillot Jaune. «I don’t know if we can do it. If we are not strong enough, it is so – I could live with that. With mistakes, however, less. »
Küng helps wherever he can
Küng is not only a leader in the races, but also next to it. Would you like some examples? In the spring at Groupama-FDJ’s training camp in the Sierra Nevada, it was he who looked for the ideal routes on the computer. Traffic, street size, topography, weather – Küng took everything into account. “I like doing that,” he says. And then there was something else: When he noticed with his Swedish teammate Tobias Ludvigsson that he always started with the same leg in sprints, Küng said: “Depending on the curve before the home stretch, it is better to press the pedals with your other foot to give. This detail can be crucial. » Ludvigsson thanked him.
But doesn’t Küng run the risk of getting bogged down with all his commitment? Albasini: «No. It is Stefan’s character that he looks at his team. It happens automatically, with no effort. At the same time, he can be sure that his colleagues will do everything for him when he needs them. It’s worth gold. »
Küngs Deadline 2020:
- Strade Bianche (1. August)
- Milan – Sanremo (August 8)
- Critérium du Dauphiné (12.-16. August)
- Tour de France (29. August – 20. September)
- World Cup Time Trial (September 20)
- Ghent-Wevelgem (11. October)
- Scheldeprijs (14. October)
- Tour of Flanders (October 18)
- Three days from La Panne (October 21st)
- Paris-Roubaix (25. Oktober)