Interview with Stefan Küng

4. March 2024

Foto: zVg

Stefan Küng has spent 10 years among the world's elite of professional cycling. This season, the Thurgovian is leading the French team Groupama-FDJ into the Spring Classics. In 2022, he achieved his best result to date with third place at Paris-Roubaix.  At the World Championships, the 30-year-old won three individual medals in the elite Road Race and Individual Time Trial.

Stefan Küng, what are your goals for 2024?

For me, it's a year full of highlights. First, there's the Spring Classics with the Flanders tour and Paris-Roubaix, then there’s the Olympic Games in Paris followed by the World Championships at home in Zurich. I'll also be riding in the Tour de Suisse and Tour de France. I'm mainly focusing on the Olympic Games and World Championships. I've still got a score to settle at the Olympics as I came fourth in the Time Trial in Tokyo, placing just outside of the medals.


If you had to choose one Gold medal, would you prefer it to be an Olympic one in Paris or a World Championship medal in Zurich?

Well, I'd prefer to win both Gold medals (laughs). But the Olympic Games are particularly appealing as they only take place every four years. So a victory there would be even more special. For a World Championship victory, the winner gets to wear the champion’s rainbow jersey for the entire season.

You've often come very close to major success in the past. Have you changed any aspects of your training this season or tried anything new?

Not really. My physiotherapy has been more intense this winter in order to sort out my muscular imbalances. The team also has a new bicycle manufacturer with whom we are working to develop the product. Of course, we’re also working really hard on our performance and preparing to get the season off to a good start.

In your view, what are the three most important factors for success?

I'm a big believer in consistency. When you are close to being the best in the world, you know you've done a lot of things right and I like to build on that. I also keep reminding myself of everything that I've achieved. And, of course, I'm working hard each day to achieve my goals. I don't want to look back and wonder if I could have done more.


The more success you have, the greater the pressure and expectations. How do you deal with this?

I put the most pressure on myself since I want to do my best in every race and seize that victory. The better prepared I am, the more relaxed I feel. That's easier said than done, mind. Even after ten years in professional sport there’s still uncertainty, such as when you’re starting a new season and you don’t know where you're at compared to the competition. Mostly, it's positive pressure, though. I consider it a great privilege to be able to ride at this level. For me, that's the key difference: it’s being “able to”, not “having to”. 

For amateur cyclists, the season is just getting started. What tips do you have for them?

It's important to start off gradually and not overdo it during the first two or three weeks. Even the professionals start off slowly and build up. Also, the days aren't that long at the moment and it's still pretty cold outside. This tires you out faster and you might overstrain your body if you start off too intensively.

Do you have an insider tip you would be willing to share with us?

I've got plenty (laughs). Start by choosing the right material and looking after it. Make sure you spend enough time working on the positions and settings you'll need in a race. It’s a reassuring feeling to know how the bike will respond during a fast descent. You should also focus on your nutrition so that you know what works best for you before a race.