Lennard Kämna’s transformation into a classification rider is progressing at this Giro d’Italia. Over the entire three weeks, the man from Bremen has consistently been in the extended world class. With an excellent mountain time trial on Saturday, he could even join the illustrious circle of German cycling legends like Kurt Stöpel and Dietrich Thurau.
Lennard Kämna makes a pretty tidy impression with this one Giro d’Italia. On the mountain stages of the third week, he finished first on his team. He then sat down on the role alone, and before his teammates arrived, he had usually easily completed the part-time job of giving interviews. “I can be quite satisfied with how things have gone for me so far in this Giro. Everything is going well”he told the sports show, and continued to move his legs to drive the lactate out of them.
Kämna has history in mind
Kämna particularly impressed in this third week. The cameras rarely caught what he was doing. Because they stayed with the top three of this Giro: Geraint Thomas, Primoz Roglic and Joao Almeida. The man from Bremen was mostly unable to keep up with their rear wheels in the finale. But behind it he drove a smart race.
The Bora hansgrohe professional no longer allowed himself to be seduced by the hot racing blood that beats in his veins, as it did in the first week. On the eighth stage he overran, tried to keep up with Roglic, Thomas & Co, but then lost time. “I was too euphoric“, he assessed self-critically. “Lennard learned from that. I no longer have to brake him from the car. He knows what he has to do”said a few days later his sports director Enrico Gasparotto satisfied the sports show.
Events proved him right. On the way to Val di Zoldo on Thursday, Kämna divided his strength so well that he was able to catch up with some of his direct competitors who had miscalculated. He finished sixth overall – and had something very historic in mind: none of the 163 German Giro participants ever came in better than fifth overall. In the distant year 1932 Kurt Stöpel succeeded, in 1983 Dietrich Thurau.
Setback on the Three Peaks
On the king’s stage on Friday through the Dolomites to the dreaded Drei Zinnen, Kämna suffered a setback. With four kilometers to go, he had to give up and dropped back to eighth place. “The steep hill at the end was a bit too steep for me. I would have liked to have been on six or at least seven. Now it’s eight. That bothers me a bit, to be honest.”he explained.
Nevertheless, the balance is rather positive. At Kämna as well as at his bosses. “It doesn’t matter whether he finishes fifth or eighth. The key question that you have to ask yourself and what you have to analyze with him is: does he have the potential for the classification driving project or do you rather let Lenni Lenni be”said team boss Ralph Denk to the sports show.
For Denk, things seem pretty clear. He sees that the former stage hunter Kämna with daily victories in the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia has the potential as a round driver for Grand Tours. “He is the greatest talent we currently have in Germany”emphasized Denk.
But he also wants to give the racer time to process the experiences from the Giro. “It will certainly be the task of the next few weeks to let everything sink in first. And we are so democratic that he can say whether he wants to continue on this path or not. We don’t want to force him into a drawer.”assured the otherwise quite assertive Upper Bavarian.
Positive overall balance
In any case, Kämna has shown that the adventurous classification lures him on big tours. All the concerns that the attack driver Kämna could lose interest in the switch to the more cautious classification driving have proven to be unfounded. If Kämna is confronted with it, he reacts rather angrily. “I already knew last year in December that I wouldn’t start attacking at the front on the mountain stages here at the Giro, but that I had to keep at it for the time being. It doesn’t hurt me now, it’s part of the process”he said.
Known things in transformation process
And then not everything is new for him. Some aspects are even similar to what Kämna had to master as the breakaway king: how close you can go to your own limit to keep your rivals at bay without overloading your organism so much that your muscles can no longer work. “Pacing is above all a matter of experience. At some point you get to know your body relatively well. Then you know where the limit is. And basically it’s nothing more than riding in the breakaway group. I have to think about it too divide my strength so that I can win in the end.”
After the king’s stage on Friday, he has to change course a bit. But he would like to make up one or two places in the time trial on Saturday. History proves him right. Compared to most of his opponents, who are all around him in places four to ninth within two minutes, he has been faster in the time trials in the last three years. However, Kämna does not want to commit to one result. “I only know if I like the profile of the time trial after I’ve ridden it”he said dryly.
Time trials on unknown terrain
Before the Giro, he couldn’t get a direct picture of the route. “When we were there it was still snowing. You couldn’t see anything. We know from the organizer’s videos that it’s a concrete road that goes up steeply.”, said the sporting director Jens Zemke to the sports show. It will be important not to be too euphoric at the beginning of the flat section and not to overpace, warned racing team manager Denk.
At this Giro, Kämna proved several times that he has a good feeling for pacing. So there is definitely hope for the last great adventure of this Giro. The mountain time trial from Tarvisio up to Monte Lussari measures 18.6 km. The first ten kilometers are only slightly uphill. The last eight are tough with a maximum gradient of 22%.
Pacing thriller also in the fight for pink
If Kämna concentrates primarily on the race for places four to ninth, everything is still open in the fight for overall victory. The first three are within a minute. Time trial Olympic champion Primoz Roglic is slightly favored. The Slovenian has to gain 26 seconds on Thomas. He has shown fine form lately too. In the uphill sprint of the last 200m on the Drei Zinnen he took three seconds off Thomas. Being able to pace excellently will also be a key competence for them on this decisive day of the 106th Giro d’Italia.