Kuss’ support for Roglic unwavering as Giro approaches climax

With three decisive stages remaining, American Sepp Kupp believes his team leader can turn the race around

Photo: Getty Images

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Valdaora, Italy (VN) — American Sepp Kuss remains confident that Jumbo-Visma team leader Primoz Roglic can still win the 2019 Giro d’Italia.

“Yeah, absolutely,” Kuss said when asked if Roglic can do it. “I think stage 20 will be really tough, and he always has the last time trial to bank on.

“As you saw last year in this race, everything can totally flip around in the end. You really can’t count anyone out.”

A win for Roglic would be the perfect outcome for Kuss in just his second grand tour. The 24 year-old was called in late to support the Slovenian’s bid after Robert Gesink was ruled off the roster by a crash.

Though not on the front as often as in his debut grand tour at the 2018 Vuelta a España, Kuss is gaining solid experience in helping a serious GC rider.

“It’s a different race for sure,” he said. “On a personal level, it’s probably going better in the second half than it did in the Vuelta.

“In the Vuelta last year, I was just surviving to get to the finish. In the second half of this race, I can actually help out a bit more.

“There’s still some stages where I can’t make that final selection, but it’s all progression and I’m giving my best.”

Kuss worked at last year’s Vuelta a España for Steven Kruijswijk, who went on to place fourth. It came on the heels of a impressive ride in the Tour of Utah, where Kuss won three stages and the overall.

He said he gained a lot from the Vuelta and is doing so again in the Giro, but adds there is still ground to improve.

“I’ve made some positioning mistakes, things like that,” Kuss said. “I’m learning how to read the right breakaways…Little things that make a big difference.”

Roglic, currently sitting in third place overall, started as a major favorite. Immediately Kuss was put to work after Roglic topped the first day’s time trial in Bologna. He led the race for five days before surrendering the pink jersey to Valerio Conti.

However, Roglic’s form appears to be fading as the race nears its final in Verona. He crashed last weekend in Como and, in small increments, has dropped 2:16 behind race leader Richard Carapaz. Kuss believes, however, everything is still possible over the last three stages.

The Giro ends with a 17km time trial to Verona’s Arena. Roglic is the best time trial rider of the top classification men, but he probably needs to make up time to be within reach of the final pink jersey and overall winner’s trophy.

Stage 20 to Monte Avena will either be a day for him or one of his rivals to put themselves in position to win the 2019 title.

“I don’t know the stage personally but Primoz has reconned it,” Kuss said. “He will have some advice for us.

“It looks like a hard start, straight uphill, and it doesn’t really stop from there.

“It’s going to be another day like the Mortirolo day. Just a lot of climbing and riding away. It should be tough.”

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