A small investigation into the Lennard Kämna graffiti train

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's a Mount Etna and Giro-inspired graffiti train!

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What was your first thought when you saw the above image? One of disbelief that someone has graffitied an entire train carriage in celebration of Bora-Hansgrohe’s German rider Lennard Kämna? Me too.

Soon after, questions follow. How? Who? Why?

What could possibly have possessed someone to go to such extreme lengths to celebrate Kämna’s Giro d’Italia stage 4 victory atop (well, nearly atop) Mount Etna? Look at the precision of the lava spill, the nod to Kämna’s teammate Jai Hindley and his winning of the endless trophy, the positioning of the volcano exactly where the doors open.

“Is that real?” one person commented when the image was posted on social media. Others simply replied “Lenni Kämna”, which must be a German in-joke the rest of us aren’t privy to.

Look closer, at the top right corner of the carriage, and the artist had left their tag. ‘Lyp.gfk’. No, me neither.

To help us unpick this mystery of professional cycling breaking through into real, everyday life, we’d need the help of our German friend Julien, who runs the sehr cool blog 8000watt.

“Someone sent it to me from the graffiti scene anonymously,” Julien told CyclingTips of how the wider world found out about the train. “I don’t know who it was, he just said ‘hey man I just found this train next to Dusseldorf, ah man we love Lennard Kämna’ and then I posted it.”

8000watt has a strict rule of beer first, interviews second, which has enamoured Julien to German pros. He knows Kämna personally, and so sent the image on to him.

“Ah man, that’s so cool!” came the reply.

After further investigation, asking friends more familiar with the German graffiti scene, Julien uncovered more details about lyp.gfk. ‘Lyp’ and ‘gfk’ are actually two separate artists, or graffiti groups. Lyp originated in the western city of Wuppertal before migrating to Cologne, while gfk is from Hamburg. A quick search of either on Instagram brings up further examples of their work, but this is their first foray into cycling art.

More than 400km separate the northern city of Hamburg from Cologne, so maybe gfk painted half of the image before the train departed southward and lyp finished off the job?

Unfortunately, we’ll never know.

“It’s impossible,” Julien told us in response to the chance we could talk to either lyp or gfk. “Because what they’ve done is illegal and cost a lot of money.” I feel it’s important to mention that instead of the word money, Julien used the dollar bill with wings emoji: 💸

So, we’ll never get the full story behind this major work, but at least we can be safe in the knowledge that the man himself, Lennard Kämna, loves it.

“When you see graffiti on the train with Lennard Kämna, Giro d’Italia, Bora-Hansgrohe, this is just so cool,” Julien continued.

“In my eyes, in Germany, it’s the beginning of urban culture loving the professional side of the sport.”

After the Ullrich and Telekom years, which saw Germany fall out of love with the sport, new heroes such as Lennard Kämna and the country’s WorldTour outfit Bora-Hansgrohe winning their first Grand Tour at the recent Giro is inspiring a new German generation to fall back in love with road racing. One train carriage at a time.

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