Monday, March 24, 2014

Kung takes Normandie prologue

Photo: Tour de Normandie

Apparently a silver medal in the individual pursuit at the World Track Championships a few weeks ago was not enough for Stefan Kung, the powerful U23 from BMC Development. The young Swiss rider set one of the early fast times at the Tour of Normandie prologue and he never relinquished the lead, though it did get tight at the end.

Kung was one of the first riders to set off on the technical course, which included a hill as well as multiple corners, and blasted around with a time of 5'02", just shy of a 43 km/h average speed. Many tried to come close but they were not able to match him. Reidar Borgensen came in at 4 seconds back, which was good enough for 4th on the day, and Tom Bohli, Kung's BMC Development teammate, came in 3 seconds back. GC favorite Frederik Ludvigsson had a rough night of sleep, according to his twitter, but even with that setback, he clocked in a respectable time, good enough for 24th place, 12 seconds back on Kung. Bert-Jan Lindeman, the Rabobank Development man who has been on fire as of late, came in 9th place at 8 seconds. The only scare the Kung got at the end was from Sergey Nikolaev of Itera-Katusha. Nikolaev, who was in good for in the Istrian Spring Trophy, came around the final bend and missed Kung's time by a slim .87 seconds.

Kung will start in the yellow jersey and he could have a shot at keeping it until the end but one of his biggest tests will come later in the race on the stage to Villers-Bocage, which has a difficult series of hills as well as wind to contend with. Kung, for those that do not know, is a big unit. He stands at 6 foot 3 inches and comes it at a bulky 185 pounds (84kg) and is an absolute powerhouse. He has been developing very well and even though he is a big guy, he can handle the hills pretty well (see his win in the Giro del Belvedere from last year for evidence) and has a shot at this.

The race continues tomorrow with a 200 kilometer stage to the mythical town of Forges-les-Eaux, which should belong to the sprinters but after last year's crash-fest, it could come down to a smaller group.

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