Breakaway king Lennard Kämna makes good on Bora-Hansgrohe faith at Giro d’Italia
Kämna kicks to second grand tour win as he reaps rich run of form after a 2021 derailed by health problems: 'I'm even better than I expected myself'
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ETNA, Italy (VN) – Lennard Kämna made good on Bora Hansgrohe’s faith to deliver the team a red hot breakaway win atop the largest active volcano in Europe.
Kamna took a long racing hiatus with physical and mental health struggles last season, missing the Tour de France in his all-important contract year.
Despite the long leave of absence, Bora-Hansgrohe renewed its German ace’s contract in an act of faith that brought a high-profile volcanic victory at the Giro d’Italia on Tuesday.
“I’m so happy to already have the stage win in the pocket,” Kämna said at the finish. “For our team it’s super great to have an early victory that relieves a lot of pressure. I think for us everything is on the right way.”
Victory on Tuesday showed the team that Kämna was worth waiting for, and showed the rider that bike riding can still be a blast.
“I’m happy to be back and to race again, this is why I’m on the bike, I like to fight for victories,” Kämna later told the press at his Etna conference. “I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted and so I took the break and I’m happy to be back and racing again.”
Kàmna outkicked breakaway rival Juan Pedro López on the gusting summit and motored to the line solo, cracking a victory salute that showed he’s very much enjoying being back after what was his second long-term break from racing.
The victory Tuesday continued the trajectory Kämna started before cutting out of the pro peloton from May last month.
Stunning solo victories at the 2020 Tour de France and Critérium du Dauphiné marked then 23-year-old Këmna as a wunderkind that could deliver on the scale of champions like Jan Ullrich, Erik Zabel and Marcel Kittel.
Two turbulent years later, he’s back in the grand tour frame.
Breakaway skills and skullduggery
Kämna’s win Tuesday saw racing nerve and a little old-school skullduggery.
After making the fast-motoring break that rocketed away early in the day, Kämna let López fly solo on the lower half of Etna’s endless slopes before kicking away from Mauri Vansevenant (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) and Sylvain Moniquet (Lotto Soudal) to chase down López at the perfect moment.
“I wanted to stay as long as possible in the bigger group,” Kamna said. “I didn’t feel confident enough to try from 10 or 15 K from the finish because it was a headwind and on such a steep climb. But then I noticed the gap was getting too big … I had to reach the wheel of López with one or two K to go or it’s gone. It worked out and I’m really pleased it worked out.”
And there was a little mid-race machination involved too.
A brief exchange between López and Kämna as the two rode toward the finish saw an old-style “gentleman’s agreement” that gave López the leader’s jersey and Kämna his second grand tour stage.
“We said congratulations. We both were pretty happy with the outcome,” Kamna said. “He has the maglia rosa which was pretty great for him also so we were both pretty happy with the outcome.”
More to come from breakaway king Kamna
And Kamna’s not done yet. After kicking into winning form with victory at Tour of the Alps last month, the 25-year-old wants to make the most of a rich run of form.
“On the last day of Tour of the Alps I was feeling better than on stage 3. I felt day by day it was getting better and better and I gained more when training after the Tour of the Alps,: he said. “And now I’m even better than I even expected myself to be honest and I’m super happy about it, and I’m just enjoying it.”
A stack more breakaway stages lie in wait for Kämna through the next 10 days.
Despite sitting second overall in the classification, the galloping German is happy to keep doing what he does best and leave the GC racing for his trio of leaders Jai Hindley, Wilco Kelderman and Emanuel Buchmann.
“This Giro I definitely will not go for GC and want to try for some more stages at least, I’ll try if there’s more opportunity for sure,” he said.