A better ending for the Possagno-Pian del Cansiglio would have been hard to imagine. Sometimes one wonders how certain coincidences can actually occur, not one day earlier and not one day later. Today, Jan Christen – a very young Swiss rider born in 2004, not yet 19 years old – has conquered stage win. He completed a splendid action carried out between the villages of Nevegal, Malga Cate and Campon and took home his first victory in the U23 category.
What is the coincidence, you may wonder! Well, he was a great friend of Gino Mäder, who tragically passed away yesterday at the age of 26. One wonders where Christen found the strength to hit the road this morning, but it was more than likely the desire to pull off something special for Gino. Jan even managed to withstand the wild comeback of the Maglia Rosa. “I am speechless. After yesterday’s terrible day, it’s nice to be able to dedicate the victory to Gino. I knew him very well, my family in particular is close to his dad, it hurts and will hurt for a long time. They told me after yesterday’s stage, I slept poorly last night. Maybe he gave me this strength in the finale to go and win the stage.
Christen has a cross tattooed on his forearm: “Every now and then I would look at it and say to myself ‘come on we’ll make it, it’s for Gino'”. And he (or perhaps they) did make it! But to reduce everything to coincidence and fate would be rather reductive, this boy is at the very beginning of a path that is bound to take him very high and far. The mere fact that a team like Hagens Berman Axeon has bet on him is a sign of his talent.
Not enough? Then let us mention that he already has a contract with UAE Team Emirates, from 2024 to 2027. He’s already been in training with the Emirates team, and draws his inspiration from Tadej Pogačar (to whom, among other things, he also bears a striking physical resemblance as well as facial features): “I also have similar characteristics to Tadej, I go quite strong uphill and in the classics and defend myself in time trials as well. I hope to become like him”. Strong ambitions for this Swiss lad, his career will certainly be fun to follow.