Top Banana: Tour de France stage 15 – Lennard Kämna

Whether or not Thibaut Pinot or Julian Alaphilippe actually winds up winning the Tour de France, both riders have given the home nation real reason to hold their heads up high. They’re not the only country with good reason to believe they may have finally finished serving their purgatorial sentence, however. Yes, Germans have won plenty of stages on the flat, but when it comes to the mountains, they’ve struggled to even get over them, let alone compete there, since the days of Ullrich. But the times they are a-changing.

The high-flying Emanuel Buchmann’s praises have been sung on these pages once this race already. Today we could have slung our banana in the direction of Simon Geschke, the last rider to whom Simon Yates said “see ya”. Instead we chose Sunweb’s 22 year-old Lennard Kämna.

Kämna was accompanied in break by two of his team-mates and 33 others, among them some serious hitters. By our reckoning the majority were either former Grand Tour stage winners, or had clocked up an overall top ten (or better) in one three-week race or another. Kämna is only riding his second and didn’t make it further than stage 16 of his first, the 2017 Vuelta.

All but the strongest were winnowed by the first three categorised climbs of the day. By the time Mikel Landa made it across to the group, 8km from the top of the last one, there were barely half a dozen left. Kämna was one of them. As Nairo bloody Quintana lost his team-mate’s wheel, the Sunweb youngster rode over the top to latch himself onto it.

He could only manage to remain affixed for a couple of kilometres – when Landa’s on a mission no-one can stay with him – but at no point did he crack completely. The last rider apart from Landa to be caught by Pinot, Kämna kept his head and kept going. Of the GC contenders, he ended up being beaten on the stage by just three of them, including countryman Buchmann.

Sunweb haven’t had much to smile about in this race, or really even this season but maybe their young German can bring a bit of dinner table cheer. He’s a Grand Tour star of the future but a top banana of today.

Rouleur Top Bananas 2019:

Stage 1 – Greg Van Avermaet
Stage 2 – Tony Martin
Stage 3 – Michael Matthews
Stage 4 – Max Richeze
Stage 5 – Toms Skuiņš
Stage 6 – Geraint Thomas
Stage 7 – Wout van Aert
Stage 8 – Thomas de Gendt
Stage 9 – Jasper Stuyven
Stage 10 – Luke Rowe 
Stage 11 – Emanuel Buchmann
Stage 12 – Matteo Trentin
Stage 13 – Enric Mas
Stage 14 – David Gaudu


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