When Stefan Küng powered to victory in the individual pursuit at the European Track Championships on Saturday, he not only broke the Swiss national record, he also set the seventh fastest time by anyone, ever. Only three riders, Jack Bobridge, Chris Boardman, and Rohan Dennis have gone quicker over four kilometres, and Boardman did so in the now-banned 'superman' position.
Adding the European title to the World Championships gold he won at the start of the year, at just 21 years of age, Küng made the Grenchen velodrome roar and the cycling world in general purr with excitement about what he might go on to achieve.
"I have goosebumps! In front of ‘my’ crowd, in 'my' velodrome, where where I haven't stopped improving over the course of the last two years. Setting one of the best times in history and becoming European champion, it's incredible. The feeling is hard to describe but it's amazing," said Küng in an interview with 20 minutes.
"With the two times that I set, I can truly wear the world champion’s jersey with even greater honour, because there are only three people in the world who have ridden faster than me in history. That really means something."
Küng, who turns 22 next month, has already achieved a large amount in his career, with European titles on the track and road, a world road title with BMC in the team pursuit this year, and of course the rainbow jersey in the individual pursuit. He feels the key to his early success has been steady progress and improvement, and that’s something he wants to continue over the next few years.
"I once said to myself that I'd like to go under 4:15. I have always taken things step by step. For me the most important thing is that I have always made progress. Each year I have beaten the Swiss record, each year I have got better. And I want to continue in the same way."
With the 4:15 benchmark having been conquered, the question now, surely, is how far can Stefan Küng go? Jack Bobridge's world record stands at a mighty 4:10.534 but, with Küng in little doubt that he can go quicker, that may be within his grasp.
"The world record, that's an incredible mark! I would never have dreamed of clocking 4:14. I'm going to improve myself and we’ll see what happens in the future," he said.
"I still have room for improvement. I have the feeling that I can go even quicker. I'll only be 22 in November. Others have set their best times at that age. I don't want to become the best as quick as possible, but I'd like to be the best one day. I don't know where my limits are. I always want to go faster – that’s all I can say."