The Thurgauer pro cyclist Stefan Küng won the opening Time Trial of the Tour de Suisse 2023 in Einsiedeln, claiming the yellow Leader Jersey. In a thrilling race around Lake Sihl near Einsiedeln, he held off the two Belgian superstars Remco Evenepoel and Wout van Aert winning by 6 seconds and 10 seconds respectively.
This is the third time Stefan Küng has won a Tour de Suisse Individual Time Trial, making for a Swiss day of celebration in the presence of top-class competition: “It’s a huge relief for me. I came close to winning so many times in big races. The fact that it was enough today fills me with real satisfaction. There is nothing better than winning in front of your family and in Switzerland.” Despite his power in the individual time trial, this victory comes as a slight surprise, as Küng travelled to the Tour almost directly after an altitude training camp and was not yet feeling 100% in form. Following the victory, Küng remains open as to whether he will ride for the overall classification, as he did last year: “I will definitely defend the jersey for as long as I can. Tomorrow this should still be possible in Nottwil. And then we will see day by day”. Last year he placed 5th in the overall classification despite the fact that he is not considered a Tour specialist.
50 seconds deficit for Swiss hopeful Mäder
The race was hard to predict in the first hours. Changing wind conditions caused some riders to lose a lot of time in the first 12.7 kilometres of the 8-day Tour de Suisse. Gino Mäder, the biggest Swiss favourite for a top place in the overall classification, lost 50 seconds to the top seed Remco Evenepoel. During the interview at the finish line, he said that he could not yet assess his performance. The top riders will be laying their cards on the table on the way to Villars-Sur-Ollon or Leukerbad at the latest.
Homage to Valued Helper Schär
The Tour de Suisse remains in Central Switzerland tomorrow. The race heads over an attractive, hilly course around Lake Sempach from Beromünster to Nottwil. The stage will also be a tribute to the Swiss professional cyclist Michael Schär. Native to the region, the 37-year-old is retiring at the end of the season after 18 years as a professional cyclist. He is considered one of the most valued aides in the professional peloton, and led Cadel Evans, for instance, to his Tour de France victory in 2011.