Stefan Küng finishes European Championships ITT with a broken helmet after crash

Swiss specialist questionably allowed to continue after crashing into barriers and suffering several cuts

Clock16:47, Wednesday 20th September 2023
Stefan Küng came over the line in 11th place, despite sporting a broken helmet

© Sprint Cycling Agency

Stefan Küng came over the line in 11th place, despite sporting a broken helmet

Heading through the first and second intermediate time checks in virtual third place, all looked good for Switzerland's Stefan Küng to finish on the podium at the European Championships Elite Men's Time Trial, but it was not to be.

Not far from the finish line, Küng, head bowed in an aerodynamic position, veered to the left, and before realising, had strayed into the path of the metal barriers. As captured by GCN/Eurosport's slow-mo footage, the Swiss favourite crashed head-on into the fencing and was catapulted off his bike. All hopes of a medal were gone, but Küng would still remount his bike and finish the race.

Remarkably, the 29-year-old came across the line in a still commendable 11th-place finish, but the priority was now rightly on putting Küng through concussion protocols. Many watching the race questioned whether the Swiss rider should have even been allowed back on his bike.

As revealed by photographs that emerged from the race, not only had the crash resulted in Küng's right arm being scraped, but his Giro time trial helmet was in pieces. With the front of his helmet broken, Küng would have been exposed had he suffered another incident.

Thankfully, no such incident occurred, but Küng was left dripping with blood, with the shrapnel from his helmet's visor presumably cutting his face in the crash.

Despite this, bloodied and battered, the two-time European champion was allowed by his team car and race officials to return to racing and ride to the line in Emmen, leaving many onlookers displeased.

For Küng, it was a disappointing end to what he had hoped would be a medal-winning ride. Instead, Great Britain's Josh Tarling put his opponents to the sword and won the event by 42 seconds over second-placed Stefan Bissegger (Switzerland). Through the misfortune of Küng and his own combative effort, Wout van Aert (Belgium) rounded out the day's podium in third.

Read more: European Championships Men's ITT: Josh Tarling takes stunning victory

As of the time of writing, there has been no update on Küng's condition, with his next races scheduled to be the European Championships Mixed Relay Time Trial on Thursday, before the Road Race on Sunday.

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