Stefan Küng put in a phenomenal performance to take the European Championship time trial crown, upsetting the pre-race favourite Filippo Ganna.
The 22km-long pan-flat TT, held in Trento, Italy, looked to be a three-rider battle at the midway point, with Ganna, Küng, and Remco Evenepoel all within four seconds of each other at the first timing check.
As Ganna opened up on the second half of the course, it looked as though he had powered into the European champion’s jersey, as he put seven seconds into Evenepoel by the finish.
But as Küng (Switzerland) pulled into the final straight with 20 seconds to spare, it became clear that he had pulled out a staggering time on the Italian, crossing the line with eight seconds to spare over Ganna.
How it happened
The 2021 European Championships were raced over a rapid and flat 22.4km course, perfectly suited to the more powerful testers like reigning world champion Ganna and last year's European champion Küng.
Early in the day, it was Denmark's Kasper Asgreen who set a strong benchmark time, tearing around the course in 25-21, holding an average speed of 53km/h.
But Asgreen wasn't in the hotseat for long, as rising star Edoardo Affini (Italy) fcame across the line with a new best time of 25-08, but that was only the beginning of some seriously fast times from the rest of the favourites.
Another emerging talent, Stefan Bissegger (Switzerland) then put in another fast time of 24-52, but with Ganna, Evenepoel and Küng all on the course, it wasn't looking promising for Bissegger.
At the first timing check, Ganna was fastest, but was only two seconds quicker than the much smaller rider Evenepoel, with Küng another two seconds back.
But into the pivotal second half of the course, all three riders dug in to try and up the pace.
Ganna was the first of the three to cross the line, putting up a 24-37 (52km/h average), taking the hotseat and looking like he had wrapped up the win.
Victory looked to be secured for Ganna when Evenepoel crossed seven seconds slower.
Küng then made the final turn with the finish line in sight, still with plenty of time in hand as he sprinted for the finish.
The defending champion crossed the line with a time of 24-29, an average speed of 54.8km/h hour, and eight seconds quicker than the pre-race favourite Ganna.
European Championships, elite men's time trial: Trento to Trento (22.4km)
1. Stefan Küng (Sui), in 24-29
2. Filippo Ganna (Ita), at 8s
3. Remco Evenepoel (Bel), at 15s
4. Stefan Bissegger (Sui), at 23s
5. Max Walscheid (Ger), at 38s
6. Edoardo Affini (Ita), at 39s
7. Kasper Asgreen (Den), at 52s
8. Maciej Bodnar (Pol), at 1-04
9. Rémi Cavagna (Fra), at 1-06
10. João Almeida (Por), at 1-17
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