Mission accomplished. Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) was just one of two riders who could complete his set of Grand Tour stage triumphs in this year’s Vuelta a España and the German fulfilled his goal with a solo victory on Sunday.
With nine professional victories in his palmares to date, in races as prestigious as the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, the Criterium du Dauphiné and the German National Championships as well as the three Grand Tours, Kämna said his breakaway triumphs were always conditioned by one factor: he has to win alone.
“I always try to make it solo because I’m not so fast in the sprints, so it’s better for me,” he told reporters after his stage 9 victory, “in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever won a sprint.”
Kämna kept to his usual winning style at the Collado de la Cruz de Caravaca, powering away some four kilometres from the line to win ahead of Italy’s Matteo Sobrero (Jayco-AIUIa) by 13 seconds.
While he said it was ‘hard’ to find the exact moment to attack, the way he has honed his strategy as a breakaway specialist was evident from how he described how he handled the point where he made his winning move.
“The moment just comes sometimes, you try to feel the situation. I saw I had a little gap in a left-hand corner, and then I went full on, straight after the corner to get a gap. After that, I tried to go totally over my limit for two minutes, and then it was just a fight to the end.”
Kämna has a well-deserved reputation among his teammates for his ability to ‘read’ a race and on stage 9 of the Vuelta it proved invaluable. The German recounted that his gut instinct had told him that although the first part of the 184.5-kilometre stage had been peppered with echelons, he always had the feeling that the race would finally reform, and then a break would go clear. And so it proved to be.
“I tried to get through the echelons as good as possible, and saving as much energy as possible, because I always thought it would come back together again on the climb,” he said.
“Then I felt I had a lot of power in my tank, but it was hard to find the moment to drop the others because the climb was always going up and down, up and down.”
Finally, Kämna broke clear, and the end result is that at the comparatively young age of 26 and after a solo win in Villard-de-Lans in the Tour in 2020 and ahead of Juanpe López (Lidl-Trek) on the Etna in the Giro in 2022, he now has completed his Grand Tour set of wins. From hereon,…