If Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) could barely sit up to celebrate his win in the Volta a Catalunya on Friday, finally punching the air after three attempts, that was only logical given he had followed his huge mountain break on Thursday by getting in another move 24 hours later.
Part of a massive break of 41 riders on stage 5, Kämna played a much more conservative game than on Thursday, when he had attacked 52 kilometres from the finish at Port Ainé, only for his high position on GC and the sheer length of the breakaway leading to the German racer being caught on the final climb.
Instead on Friday, Kämna bided his time, only trying to go clear over the top of the final climb of the day, the first-category Port de Monserrat, in a three-rider group with Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) and Carlos Verona (Movistar).
After that ‘break from the break’ was brought back, the German 2020 Tour de France stage winner went for it again around 10 kilometres from the line, and despite a ferocious chase behind on the long, fast downhill to Manresa, the Bora-Hansgrohe pro stayed away for an impressive solo victory by 39 seconds on his closest chaser, Ruben Guerreiro (EF Education-Nippo).
“I didn’t plan to attack in a particular place, I was waiting for the right moment and then I just went,” Kämna told reporters afterwards.
“Before the last climb I didn’t feel so great and I wasn’t feeling so confident, so I said on the radio we should not chase so hard and let the others do the work a little bit.
“But then in the last climb, my legs felt way better than expected and I was just happy I could finish it off.”
In what is his first race of the season, Kämna said that he profited, too, from a degree of overly-close observation between the different riders in the break.
“Everyone was watching one another and they were a little annoyed that we weren’t working well, so it seemed the right time to try,” Kämna said.
“We spoke about what happened on stage four and he had another chance today,” Bora-Hansgrohe Sports Director Christian Pömer told Cyclingnews. “The only thing was waiting to see how his legs would respond to yesterday’s [Thursday’s] effort.
“In the end, when we got three riders [Kämna, Ide Schelling and Ben Zwiehoff] in the breakaway, and even got one rider [Schelling] from that in the group that went clear ahead at one point. So we already told Lennard to save as much energy as possible and ride with the support of others.
“Then in the end that he was able to finish it off in that style, I don’t even want to call it impressive, it was really exceptional, especially if you remember yesterday’s [Thursday’s] stage,” noted Pomer. “But Lennard’s got a great race instinct and that’s what he proved today.”
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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