Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
BEIHAI, China (VN) — Sepp Kuss is ending his first season in the WorldTour ranks on a high and looking ahead to a repeat performance in 2019.
This season, the Colorado native signed for WorldTour team LottoNL-Jumbo, won the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, and debuted in a grand tour, the Vuelta a España.
“I’ve had a lot of nice races late in the season, the second half of the season was really nice for me,” 24-year-old Kuss told VeloNews. “I’m still enjoying it, I’m motivated. I don’t feel like I burnt my matches.”
Kuss rode high in the Vuelta a España working for George Bennett and Steven Kruijswijk. Dutchman Kruijswijk led his home team to a fourth overall.
Helping Kruijswijk, Kuss led the bunch on many of the mountain stages when several stars were either dropped or struggling. From there, he rode a tough world championship and traveled to China where he is racing the Tour of Guangxi.
In Beihai, the first finish of the Tour of Guangxi, Kuss and LottoNL-Jumbo won with their sprinter Dylan Groenewegen.
“It’s super cool. One of my best memories from this year was from the Volta ao Algarve, I also did it with Dylan [Groenewegen] and it’s just cool when you are part of the winning effort. And it makes for a good vibe in the team,” Kuss added.
Later in the season, after a convincing win at Tour of Utah, he was called up to his debut grand tour at the Vuelta.
“The Vuelta was a concentrated learning experience. Other races are six days, but in three weeks you really learn a lot more. The race takes different forms, so you are always in some new scenario, which is good for me.”
Kuss did not race for himself, often finishing well behind on the stages and ending the race 65th overall, but as a climbing domestique, he saw some of the action at the front.
“It was cool in my first grand tour to be riding for someone who was going to finish high up in the GC,” he said. “Not only that but Stevie [Kruijswijk] is really experienced, to ride for him, someone who’s done so many grand tours, and he’s always at the front, that’s cool.”
Kuss admits he is “not a huge goals” guy. After the Tour of Guangxi ends this weekend, he and his teammates will meet with the staff to plan the 2019 season.
“I definitely like the grand tour style of racing. I still have a lot to learn in the week-long races too. I don’t know my schedule yet, but I hope to do another grand tour for sure and go off what I did this year. Just see what the races are like with one year of experiences under my belt,” he continued.
“The [Vuelta a España] definitely gave a lot of confidence, maybe the other races will feel shorter now. It’s definitely cool to have that under my belt. I didn’t even think a grand tour would be possible for me at the start of the year.”
Kuss will travel home to Colorado after the LottoNL-Jumbo meeting in the Netherlands. He will stay there while others meet for the December camp. At that point, he should know the roads he will take in his second year at the top level.