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European Championships: Stefan Küng wins elite men's time trial title

Stefan Küng (Switzerland) dominated the elite men's time trial, catching his minuteman Eduardo Affini (Italy) and blasting around the rolling 25.6km Plouay course to take the European Championship title.  

Küng set a time of 30:18, beating Remi Cavagna of France by 17 seconds, with Victor Campenaerts (Belgium) third at 21 seconds. Alex Dowsett (Great Britain) was the last rider to start, going on to finish fourth, 1:03 slower than Küng.

With just 28 riders on the start list rolling out at one-minute intervals, the racing was fast and furious and over in half an hour.

Justin Wolf of Germany started sixth off and soon set the fastest time of 31:48. That held for a while until the bigger names finished with only six riders going faster and several WorldTour-level riders finishing slower than the Bike Aid Continental team rider. Cavagna took the lead with a time of 30:35, confirming why he won the French time trial title last week.

Campenaerts looked strong as he pushed a huge gear but was slightly down on the Frenchman at time checks. He past his minuteman Jan Barta of the Czech Republic and pushed on his aero tuck but hit the line four second slower.   

Meanwhile, Küng was flying, using his power to keep his speed over 50kph while staying rock solid on his bike in a controlled aerodynamic position. He caught Affini with around eight kilometres to go and the talented Italian couldn’t even stay in his slipstream. Yet he would go on to finish fifth at 1:15, further indicating the quality and dominance of Küng's performance.

Dowsett fought hard as last rider off but continuously lost time to Küng ahead of him, who had time to take a drink, recover and savour the moment he knew victory was his; quietly punching the air in controlled celebration.

He then took the top step on the podium and pulled on the distinctive European champion's jersey.

"I had really good legs. I did the Dauphiné, that was my last race and every day was climbing. When I changed to the TT bike last week, in the first training I died, I really didn’t have a good feeling. But I kept getting better and better and today was the best feeling I had. It was a great day, I was prepared perfectly, and the bike was perfect too, thanks to my mechanic and the team," Küng said of his transformation from Groupama-FDJ rider to time trial expert for Switzerland.

"The course was a typical race in Brittany. The road surface is pretty rough, it’s always twisting and up and down, so you always have to keep pushing and keep focused. I really like this; it’s just an honest time trial, where you have to go full gas from start to finish. I had a plan in mind and I was able to execute it perfectly."

Küng will not stay in Brittany for Wednesday's European road race championships but will head to Nice to join-up with his Groupama-FDJ teammates for the Grand Depart of the Tour de France.

Despite no team time trial in this year's Grande Boucle, Küng is considered a key rouleur, selected to protect team leader Thibaut Pinot on the flat roads.  

"I leave directly for the Tour and then it’s three weeks about supporting Thibaut Pinot, which will hopefully end in a good way on the Champs-Élysées."

Küng will not be able to target the world time trial championships in Switzerland after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the championships in Switzerland. The new location of the event has not yet been announced but Küng is just happy to be back racing.  

"I’m just really happy we can race again," he said. "Thanks to all the organisers and the riders who make these efforts. It'd feel great to continue like this."

Full Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Stefan Kung (Switzerland) 0:30:18
2Remi Cavagna (France) 0:00:17
3Victor Campenaerts (Belgium) 0:00:21
4Alex Dowsett (Great Britain) 0:01:03
5Edoardo Affini (Italy) 0:01:15
6Jan Tratnik (Slovenia) 0:01:26
7Justin Wolf (Germany) 0:01:30
8Ryan Mullen (Ireland) 0:01:41
9Jan Barta (Czech Republic) 0:01:43
10Anthony Roux (France) 0:02:03
11Rui Costa (Portugal) 0:02:15
12Juri Hollmann (Germany) 0:02:31
13Artem Nych (Russian Federation) 0:02:36
14Evaldas Siskevicius (Lithuania) 0:02:39
15Andreas Miltiadis (Cyprus) 0:02:42
16Claudio Imhof (Switzerland) 0:02:47
17Alexander Konychev (Italy) 0:03:08
18Petr Rikunov (Russian Federation) 0:03:17
19Jasper De Plus (Belgium) 0:03:19
20Rafael Reis (Portugal) 0:03:22
21Mykhaylo Kononenko (Ukraine) 0:03:24
22Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Poland)
23Oleksandr Holovash (Ukraine) 0:03:26
24Jan Andrej Cully (Slovenia) 0:03:40
25Emil Dima (Romania) 0:03:55
26Andrej Petrrrovski (Norway) 0:04:06
27Polychronis Tzorrtzakis (Greece) 0:04:57

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Stephen Farrand
Stephen Farrand

Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.

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