Impressively back with the greats: Lennard Kämna directly wins the first difficult test at the Giro d'Italia. For the 25-year-old it is only the second stage success in a grand tour. After the first at the 2020 Tour de France, he has to fight his way out of a deep hole.
Lennard Kämna toasted his teammates with a fresh glass of sparkling wine, thanked him for the confidence in his abilities with a short winner's speech and enjoyed the applause in the hotel restaurant with the first sip. Visibly satisfied and also slightly touched, the 25-year-old from the German team Bora-hansgrohe celebrated his second triumph in a major national tour after the stage success in the Tour de France 2020, once again underlining his brilliant form.
After his triumphant run, Lennard Kämna crossed the finish line on the sixth stage in the afternoon with the peloton in overdrive. The Frenchman Arnaud Demare won in the mass sprint and prevailed after 174 km in a headwind on the flat home stretch in the port city of Messina. Kämna remains in second place in the overall classification with 39 seconds behind the Spaniard Juan Pedro Lopez from the Trek-Segafredo team and successfully defended the lead in the mountains classification.
"I really enjoyed it. Now let's enjoy the moment, cheers," said Kämna on Tuesday after his impressive victory on Mount Etna on Stage 4 of the Giro d'Italia. "I almost thought I lost it. I'm very, very happy. This victory takes a lot of pressure off," Kämna said after the race.
Between May 2021 and February of this year, the highly talented youngster from Wedel did not compete on the road. Nevertheless, he was sure of the support of his team. Ralph Denk, team manager at Bora, personally took care of his protégé. "When he wasn't doing well, I made it a top priority," said Denk.
At a long lunch in a small circle, in which Denk cooked himself, the next steps were discussed. Denk suggested that Kämna start in October at the Cape Epic mountain bike race in South Africa. The idea of Kämna showing "Africa and another discipline in our sport" was fruitful. Kämna found his balance again.
Denk is all the more proud of his success on Mount Etna. "The relief is great for the team and for me personally," said Denk: Kämna, according to the 48-year-old, had "been very, very dear to him over the last year through the whole story with breaks and time off." He personally put "a lot of energy" into "Project Lennard", said Denk: "That's why victories like yesterday are of course a bit more emotional."
It is possible that Kämna, Denk and Bora-hansgrohe will soon be able to celebrate again. Further daily successes on the way to the Giro final on May 29 in Verona cannot be ruled out. Denk has great hope: "That we still have a great, common and long future."