Stefan Küng at Paris-Roubaix.

A ‘big step’ forward: Küng caps off Classics campaign with Roubaix podium

Stefan Küng rides onto the podium of a Monument for the first time at Paris-Roubaix.

Don’t miss out on the latest CyclingTips updates.

Jump To Comments

After riding to his first ever Monument podium on Sunday at Paris-Roubaix, Stefan Küng acknowledged that he has taken a “big step” forward as a Classic contender. The 28-year-old Swiss pro has led the way for Groupama-FDJ amid a breakthrough 2022 spring campaign, and along the way he has registered five top 10s in WorldTour one-days, showing remarkable consistency as he has emerged as a force on the cobbles.

“I did a really big step this year,” Küng said in the post-Roubaix press conference.

“Mentally I am really confident now that I can actually follow the best and be part of the race until the final and this was also the case today and when you have this confidence you also stay calm.”

That mindset helped Küng make it through what could have been some discouraging early moments in the race. Küng, like several other big names, missed a split forced by the Ineos Grenadiers in the first hour, but he stuck to the plan and things eventually came back together. He said afterword that his team remained confident in him throughout the day, a day that ended with him finishing third in the Roubaix velodrome.

“I didn’t feel pressure they were just believing in me and saying ‘you have everything it takes’ even after the start when I was on the back foot, they were not like, ‘What the hell are you doing back there?'” Küng said.

“We have a positive dynamic and it’s nice to pay them back in a way.”

Although his big engine has made him a favorite for time trials for the past several years, Küng’s emergence as a major player in the Classics is a more recent phenomenon, and only this season has he found himself consistently near the top of the leaderboards in the biggest cobbled races.

For Groupama-FDJ, a team not known for its Classics prowess outside of Arnaud Démare’s successes in the more sprinter-friendly races, Küng’s emergence has been a huge boon.

“It’s really really important for our team because our director and general manager won it and it’s the biggest one-day race in France and we are a French team with French sponsors, so after the Tour de France it’s the biggest highlight in the calendar for our team, so to be up there on the podium is really nice to represent out team,” Küng said.

Top-tier victories remain elusive for Küng and his team, but this season has undoubtedly represented a quantum leap for the squad’s Classics fortunes. With Küng, Démare, Valentin Madouas, and Attila Valter all contributing, Groupama-FDJ has landed at least one rider inside the top 10 of all but one of the 10 WorldTour one-days that have taken place so far this year.

With that level of consistency, the team seems likely to put someone atop a podium sooner or later. As Küng put it, “A big win is missing but if we keep trying, then maybe one day.”

Editors' Picks