Four days after falling 90 meters short of a stage win, it was another case of close but not close enough for Lennard Kämna.
The willowy German climber snuck into the break, whooshed through Megève and hit the slopes to the altiport above town. The setting was familiar – at the 2020 Critérium du Dauphiné he’d snuck free from a breakaway on these same roads, punching clear and then punching the sky.
That was two years ago. The Lennard Kämna of 2022 is a marked man.
After the agony of Planche des Belles Filles, Kämna had his eye on a stage victory in Megève, trying repeatedly and fruitlessly to drag himself back into a splintering race. “I really committed long to that plan,” he said after the stage, spinning his salty legs out next to the team bus.
“I really had the feeling that the whole group was riding against me. It’s like, OK, I’m the favourite, but I think a lot of guys totally screwed their own chances to just cover me,” he continued. Not angry, just disappointed.
Kämna has had an ascendant season, with three wins and counting, but the one that really got people’s attention was on stage 4 of the Giro. On that day, Kämna rode out of the break to a stage win on a volcano and was immortalised in Germany to the extent of having a train graffitied with his name. He might’ve missed his shot at the stage win today because of that, but he ended up in contention for a sneaky yellow jersey. He crossed the line in tenth, 22 seconds behind the stage winner but with a handy lead on the main pack.
And then he waited, with a towel around his neck and a camera in his face. Eight and a half minutes later, Tadej Pogačar sprinted across the line to hold onto the yellow jersey by 11 seconds. Kämna shrugged, rolled away and took off the mountain to the team bus where he found himself at the center of a mild media storm.
“In the end it’s sport, it’s not like we give presents to each other,” Kämna said, philosophically. “I don’t expect anyone to just give me something, especially not the maillot jaune. And they actually gave me already a lot of time today … so I can almost say thanks, because they gave me the chance and I didn’t use it.”
He laughed gently to himself, pedalling on the trainer under the alpine sun – 11 seconds away from the yellow jersey, with half a Tour de France ahead of him.