For Stefan Küng, the season did not end in ideal circumstances. The Swiss powerhouse had brought solid form into the end of the year – fifth at the World Championships road race, second overall at Okolo Slovenska – and went into the European time trial championship targeting a win. You probably know what happened next: a truly scary crash into the barriers, a shattered helmet, and blood absolutely everywhere.
He remounted and rode to the finish, arriving in 11th position, but his dramatic appearance sparked a wave of soul-searching – and for good reason. Among Küng’s injuries was a broken cheekbone, hand fractures, and a concussion. After recovering in hospitals – both in Essen, where the crash took place, and in St Gallen, near his home base – Küng had time to reflect on the incident. As he wrote on Instagram, he was “lucky to be able to walk away from this crash”, but there was misfortune of a different kind: he revealed in an interview last week that his wedding ring had gone missing in the aftermath.
“The wedding ring is gone. In the finish photos, I’m still wearing it on my finger. In St. Gallen, when the cast was removed, it was no longer there,” Küng told SRF. “I asked the various doctors who treated me, but to no avail. I certainly don’t remember if they cut it in the first few hours in the hospital, maybe because my fingers were swelling. I myself lack memory during this phase.”
There are few items of as great sentimental value as a wedding ring – a symbol of commitment that, in Küng’s case, has been on his finger since May 2022. It’s been there for two Tours de France, for wins and losses, and now it’s gone. There’s an undercurrent of tragedy to that, salt in a traumatic wound.
But when I was looking back through the photos and videos of Küng’s crash, I noticed something. After scouring the photographic archives of Cor Vos, Kramon and Getty Images, I think Küng is mistaken: the wedding ring was not there at the finish.
In fact – and I can understand why he wouldn’t want to replay the harrowing footage – I’m pretty sure you can even see it bouncing off as he tumbles to the ground:
So where is (or was) Stefan Küng’s wedding ring?
Fortunately, for our problem-solving needs, there was a prominent cineplex near the crash site which aided our Google Maps sleuthing. Cross-referenced with street signs and trees and the curve in the road, and I’m pretty sure we can narrow the search down to the space of a few metres on the N381, just outside Emmen.
Weeks have passed since the evening of September 20, when Stefan Küng crashed into that barrier and lost his wedding ring. In that time he’s been through surgeries, enjoyed whatever pain-free portion of his off-season he could, and as of last week, returned to the bike. He’s also spent time on the phone calling around hospitals in the Netherlands and Switzerland in the hope of finding something precious, and is understandably pretty sad about it all.
That hospital quest is a noble venture, but I’m pretty sure it’s destined to be a fruitless one. In our considered opinion, what he really needs is a metal detector and an afternoon on a Dutch roadside. Or if there are any locals reading – you know what to do to make Stefan Küng’s day.
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