Stefan Küng finished safely in the peloton for the second consecutive stage at the Tour de Suisse, retaining the yellow jersey he took after crossing the line ahead of BMC Racing teammates in the opening day team time trial.
Stage 3 suited the one-day specialists and sprinters and they duly delivered. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) took the honours on the stage, confirming his liking for the rain, while Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) lit up the finale and thinned the bunch dramatically with an attack on the final ascent of the Hagenfirst climb.
The versatile Küng chaperoned team leader Richie Porte, relishing the challenging racing on roads less than 100 kilometres from his birth town.
"It was an interesting finale actually, I liked it more than just a pure sprint. Today was like a mini Classics stage that made the race interesting,” Küng explained.
"Peter Sagan tried on the last climb but everyone was ready and it came down to a group like yesterday with a small bunch sprint.
"I've been following the Tour de Suisse since a little kid on the side of the road. Last year I experienced it for the first time as a professional. Wearing the yellow jersey at home really makes me proud, I'm getting used to it, it's a pleasure."
Now in his fourth - and possibly final - season with BMC, as questions over the team's future remain, Küng is continuing to grow and develop as a rider. Still just 24 years old, he took his first senior national time trial title twelve months ago. A little over a week later, he was just five seconds shy of the yellow jersey at the opening time trial at the Tour de France.
"I'm feeling good so far, I’m feeling pretty confident going into tomorrow's stage," Küng said of his defence of the jersey. "We'll see how it goes and what the GC guys have in mind. If they really go for it, it will be difficult. We'll see but the goal is to defend the jersey."
Richie Porte is BMC Racing’s focus for the Tour de Suisse, which is his final tune-up for next month's Tour de France. Küng feels that riding in the service of Porte is wholly compatible with defending his jersey.
"I think defending my jersey and working for Richie go well together. Today I was up there together with Richie. If I really have to go for it to save the situation for Richie then for sure I will [work] because he's our long-term objective to win the Tour de Suisse," Küng said.
"He has the best opportunity in the team and best qualities to do so. When it really comes down to it, man for man, for sure I'll be there for Richie in support."
The short and long term future
Küng could be a major transfer target for 2019. His undoubted time trialling ability combined with versatility and strength in one-day Classics and stage racing would make the young Swiss rider a welcome and valuable addition to any WorldTour team.
Just how far Küng will go as a rider in the longer term remains to be seen but the potential is huge, with some seeing him as the next Fabian Cancellara. Despite his potential Küng is staying grounded, focusing on his duty to Porte and playing down his own abilities in the week ahead.
"I think it's going to be difficult to really look for long-term GC because it was not the goal for me coming into Tour de Suisse. If you look at the profiles, the climbs they don't seem so steep but when you see how Richie is climbing at the moment, I think it's going to be difficult for anyone to follow him,” he said.
"The climb to Arosa on Friday is quite a tough one, I've done it before in hill climb races as an amateur and I know the climb. For sure there, at least there, I will lose time. I'm not looking for that, I'm just going day to day and we will see how it goes."
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