Tour de France: Stefan Küng happy with performance despite losing out on stage victory to Pogačar

The European champion says that Pogačar wasn't who he thought would be the main threat for the stage win

Stefan Küng riding to second on stage five of the Tour de France 2021
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Stefan Küng took second place at stage five time trial of the Tour de France 2021 just 18 seconds behind Tadej Pogačar with Küng saying he was happy with his ride, even though he didn't win.

The Groupama-FDJ rider came into the stage as joint-favourite alongside Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and it did look like, at least for Küng, that it was heading in that direction.

But Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) really put out an amazing statement to decimate the field and take the stage win, but not the yellow jersey which was held onto by Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix).

>>> Tadej Pogačar storms to stage victory on stage five of Tour de France with Van der Poel keeping yellow

Speaking after the stage, Küng said: "I kind of felt like if I'm going to be beaten by less than 10 seconds then maybe it could have been possible [to win], but I think everybody thinks like that when he crosses the line, although 18 seconds [is a good gap]. 

"I had a really good ride and did a really good performance. I was on top, I knew what I had to do. I've just been beaten by a stronger rider today. So hats off to Tadej [Pogačar]. And I'll fight back in the second TT.

There was a plethora of amazing time trial talent on the start ramp today, including Van Aert as well as Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) and Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), but the latter was holding some nasty injuries from his stage three crash.

Küng said he did see Pogačar as more of an outsider for the stage but he was focused on other riders and his own effort.

"No, honestly, I was more scared of Wout van Aert because he reminded me a little bit of Tirreno-Adriatico when I was sitting in the hot seat for a long time as well. And then he came last and he beat my time," Continued the European time trial champion.

"Tadej kind of was on my radar a little bit, but then I don't focus on other riders."

Küng did lose contact with his team car just before the second split and was riding the rest of the stage on his own really. But, Pogačar reportedly had the same issues in a similar part of the course.

"Maybe it would have been an advantage to have the intermediate time checks. But then I gave my maximum and hats off to him.

"Luckily, there's a second TT which might suit me a little bit better and I hope that he's gonna get a little bit tired during this Tour de France and then I will try to do my best."

The second time trial of the race comes right at the end on the penultimate day of the race, stage 20, Libourne to Saint-Emilion over 30.8km and another undulating course.

In the meantime, Küng will return to looking after his leaders of Arnaud Démare and David Gaudu in the sprints and mountains to come.

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Tim Bonville-Ginn

Hi, I'm one of Cycling Weekly's content writers for the web team responsible for writing stories on racing, tech, updating evergreen pages as well as the weekly email newsletter. Proud Yorkshireman from the UK's answer to Flanders, Calderdale, go check out the cobbled climbs!

I started watching cycling back in 2010, before all the hype around London 2012 and Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France. In fact, it was Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck's battle in the fog up the Tourmalet on stage 17 of the Tour de France.

It took me a few more years to get into the journalism side of things, but I had a good idea I wanted to get into cycling journalism by the end of year nine at school and started doing voluntary work soon after. This got me a chance to go to the London Six Days, Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of Britain to name a few before eventually joining Eurosport's online team while I was at uni, where I studied journalism. Eurosport gave me the opportunity to work at the world championships in Harrogate back in the awful weather.

After various bar jobs, I managed to get my way into Cycling Weekly in late February of 2020 where I mostly write about racing and everything around that as it's what I specialise in but don't be surprised to see my name on other news stories.

When not writing stories for the site, I don't really switch off my cycling side as I watch every race that is televised as well as being a rider myself and a regular user of the game Pro Cycling Manager. Maybe too regular.

My bike is a well used Specialized Tarmac SL4 when out on my local roads back in West Yorkshire as well as in northern Hampshire with the hills and mountains being my preferred terrain.