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Kämna takes ‘flexible break’ as health problems weigh

Stage winner Team Bora rider Germanys Lennard Kamna celebrates as he crosses the finish line of the 16th stage of the 107th edition of the Tour de France cycling race 164 km between La Tour du Pin and VillarddeLans on September 15 2020 Photo by Stuart Franklin POOL AFP Photo by STUART FRANKLINPOOLAFP via Getty Images
Lennard Kämna (Bora Handgrohe) winning stage 16 of the Tour de France in 2020 (Image credit: Getty Images)

Lennard Kämna (Bora Hansgrohe) will take a ‘flexible break’ from racing to try and recover from lingering health problems, with a persistent infection derailing his Tour de France preparations and weighing on him physically and mentally. However the German rider was happy to announce a one-year extension to his current contract with Bora-Hansgrohe.

The 24-year-old, who won a stage at last year’s Tour de France and the Critérium du Dauphiné, had been targeting the French Grand Tour again this year. While 2021 started off well, with Kämna winning a stage at the Volta a Catalunya in March, he contracted an infection afterwards and when he then returned to racing at the five-day Volta ao Algarve in May he had not fully recovered. That led to a tough decision for the developing GC contender with an attacking style.

"After long consideration and intensive consultation with my coach and the team, I have decided to most likely not participate in the Tour de France this year. The decision was very difficult for me, and it is also one that hurts,” Kämna said.

Kämna said he would now postpone his goals and plans for the season until late summer.

“To be honest, I have to admit to myself that maybe I pushed the accelerator too hard during the spring and paid too little attention to my regeneration and what my body was trying to tell me,” 

“I want to be open with my team and the public. Unfortunately, the past weeks have also weighed on me mentally, more so than I wanted to initially admit. Now, with a heavy heart, I have to accept the reality that I’m currently not fit enough to meet the demands presented by a Tour participation. I’m now going to invest a lot of time and energy in regeneration and slowly building up my form.”

There will be no pressure on the rider to put a time-frame on that recovery, with the team offering him a flexible break.

“However, I would like to stress that I am doing well. Nevertheless, I’d like to be able to freely determine my return,” said Kämna. "That could be in the short term, but it's likely that we'll decide together not to fully re-engage again until the second half of the season. 

“I am extremely grateful to my team, especially my coach Dan Lorang, for all the support during this time.”

It’s not the first time Kämna has faced health problems and stepped back from cycling as a result. In 2018, when the then 21-year-old rider was with Team Sunweb, sickness stymied the first part of his season and he opted to take a rest from racing, that lasted just under five months, while he reflected on his long-term career goals. Similarly, in January, Jumbo-Visma rider Tom Dumoulin started an open-ended leave of absence from cycling, which he is returning from at the Tour de Suisse.

As well as the flexible break, the Bora Hansgrohe announced that they had offered Kämna an extension on his contract through till the end of 2022, adding another year to their agreement with the former junior time trial world champion who was second in the under-23 road race World Championships in 2017 in Bergen

“First of all, we want him to make a full recovery,” said team manager Ralph Denk. 

”The entire team is behind Lennard and we’ll only keep looking forward together. His contract extension is also a further indication of our common direction. Lennard has developed very well with us.” 

“His victories not only last year, but also this spring, show that he is still making progress. With Lennard, we’re making plans for the long term because we still see a lot of potential in him, which we can develop together.”

Denk said it had been disappointing to see his rider’s plans derailed as it meant all the hard work Kämna had put in had gone unrewarded. 

“However, the most important thing now is his health. I see my task as team manager to protect him and remove him from the line of fire, so to speak, and that's why we’ve decided to draw a line in the sand and start again after a reset. First of all, we want him to make a full recovery.”