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E3 Saxo Bank Classic: Stefan Küng races 190km on a broken bike to finish third

'I always had the impression kind of like I had a flat tire, but actually it must have been the frame.'

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Stefan Küng (Groupama FDJ) knew something was wrong with his bike, he just didn’t know what.

After he crossed the line in third at E3 Saxo Bank Classic, he figured it out: his carbon fiber frame was broken. Küng had ridden more than 190km with a cracked chainstay on his Lapierre frame.

Küng was caught up in a crash about 10km into the race, which features many cobblestone sectors and a number of the same famous stretches as in the Tour of Flanders.

“I didn’t really go down but my bike was in the pileup,” Küng told VeloNews. “One of my chainstays was broken. I always had the impression kind of like I had a flat tire, but actually it must have been the frame. But anyway when the legs are there it is possible.”

Stefan Küng got tangled in an early crash about 10km into the race. He wasn’t hurt, but his bike was cracked.

Küng was part of the front move that went clear on the Taaienberg, thanks to the work of Jumbo-Visma. Only a few riders could follow when eventual winner Wout van Aert forced the pace. Neither Küng nor anyone else but van Aert’s teammate Christophe Laporte could follow on the short but brutally steep Paterberg. However, Küng was able to sneak out of the chase group towards the end to take third.

Throughout the race, Küng kept wondering what was going on with his bike.

“When we had to stop at the railway line, then I checked my wheels, I checked my discs to see if they were rubbing. Then I changed the front wheel,” he said. “In a matter of one minute, you don’t have time to check the whole frame.”

Bike problems or not, the result gave him confidence for the rest of the spring season.

“I was already feeling good in Omloop [Het Nieuwsblat] and Kuurne [Brussels-Kuurne]. I was just missing the big result and now it came,” he said. “That is good for the confidence, and it also took some pressure off. You knew you did it once and you can do it again.”

Küng couldn’t catch the Jumbo-Visma duo, but he was able to sneak away from the other chasers to take third.