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Stefan Küng pipped to long-awaited Road World Championship TT gold: ‘I could cry, not out of joy’

Swissman edged out by three seconds to continue string of time trial near-misses: 'I've been circling around for this big win for quite some time.'

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Stefan Küng came close, but not close enough, Sunday.

A three-second gap deprived the Swissman the gold medal he’s long sought in the UCI Road World Championships time trial.

“I could cry, and not out of joy,” Küng told the press after he scored silver in Wollongong.

Küng is the perennial nearly-man of elite time trialing.

Sunday’s ride to second was his fourth worlds TT top-10, adding to three top-10s in the European championships.

Two Euro TT gold medals will remain at the top of his trophy cabinet after he came agonizingly close Down Under this weekend.

“I’ve been circling around for this big win for quite some time. I’ve been second, I’ve been third, I’ve been beaten by Remco [Evenepoel] a few times, by [Filippo] Ganna, by the other guys,” Küng said Sunday.

“I thought, ‘I know how to beat them, I’ve beaten them all in the past – I just have to beat them on the same day’. I made a list of the favorites this morning and I beat them all … but I didn’t have Tobias in mind.”

Also read: Foss upturns the favorites to claim worlds time trial

Tobias Foss delivered the time trial of his life to win surprise gold Sunday. A scorching back-half to his 34km TT was enough to fend off Küng, who teetered close to topping the Norwegian all through the tough course.

“He [Foss] put in a great ride. I think I did a very good time trial today, but he was stronger, so congrats to him,” Küng said as he sat to one end of the press conference table.

“There are no lies, or surprises in the race against the clock. The strongest and fastest won today. But I’d prefer to sit in the middle with the rainbow stripes on today.”

‘Tobias surprised us all’

Küng came away similarly disconsolate at the European championships in June, where he was bettered by his Swiss teammate Stefan Bissegger.

After a tough Tour de France, Küng was leaving nothing to chance on a worlds course he felt played in his favor.

A focused block of summer training designed around the Wollongong route came close to bringing Switzerland its first TT gold medal since Fabian Cancellara dominated the discipline in the late 2000s.

“My shape was coming on nice. I was really confident going into today,” Küng said. “I knew what I had to do, what had to be done, and the first lap felt like flying.

“For sure the second lap was a bit harder but when I heard the time split, and that I was ahead of Remco [Evenepoel], [Filippo] Ganna, [Tadej] Pogačar and the rest, I thought ‘that is nice, let’s keep it in the flow’. I think Tobias surprised us all today.”

Küng is booked in with Groupama-FDJ through 2025.

The big Swiss moved toward the center of the team’s ambitions this season and was close to marquee victory throughout the classics. Third at Paris-Roubaix and fifth at Tour of Flanders continued the agonizing trend Küng has come to set on the time trial bike.

“I have to accept it and keep on working,” he said. “Keep on fighting. One day I hope it will turn my way.”

One day, that big win will Küng.