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Al Dhafra Castle, UAE (VN) – Sepp Kuss isn’t losing his love for the bike, even in his sixth season in the pressure pot WorldTour.
Speaking Monday ahead of his 2023 debut at the UAE Tour, Kuss said his stripped-back approach to cycling means the rigors of top-tier racing haven’t wearied him yet.
“I still love the bike. It’s a simple sport in the end of the day. To train, you just go out on your bike and adventure around,” Kuss told VeloNews before the Emirati tour rolled out for its opening stage.
For Kuss, it’s about being selective with how he lets the details and demands of pro racing impact him.
“The sport was already pretty detailed and data-driven when I joined, but it’s so scientific now. But you can take parts of that which work for you and leave aside the parts you don’t,” Kuss said in a small team tent inside the Al Dhafra fortress.
“The data side interests me but I know myself and what motivates me, and that’s riding my bike, the exploring, the adventure.”
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Kuss spoke before of how his old-school philosophy on the daily demands of professional life keeps him level.
For a key rider in one of the peloton’s leading teams, it means cycling can still be a passion as well as a profession for the Coloradan ace.
“I still just love the riding, and that’s what you need at the end of the day,” Kuss said. “That’s what I get the motivation from, but I understand it’s different for everybody.”
Wedding ceremonies, Colombia camps
Kuss’ ability to blow off steam in the off-season saw some exceptional circumstances this winter.
The 28-year-old traveled the world, enjoyed a blow-out wedding ceremony – mechanical fairground bull included – and went to train in Colombia for several weeks.
“Going to Colombia was mostly just to do something different. We wanted to see some new places and experience something new,” he said.
“Different things like that keep things fresh for me. I always want to be on my bike, no matter what. And when you’re in a place like Colombia that’s out of your normal rhythm, then no matter how hard you’re training, it doesn’t feel like you’re training. That’s key for me, especially this time of year.”
Kuss clicks back into his racing cleats this week in the UAE for his season debut.
He expects a slow rebuild in the Emirates before racing through the Volta a Catalunya and tours of Romandie and Suisse see him in shape for the Tour de France and Vuelta a España.
The stick-thin super climber is a dead-cert for a ride alongside defending champion Jonas Vingegaard at the Tour this July as Jumbo-Visma brace against Tadej Pogačar and his reinforced UAE Team Emirates crew.
“It was a long off-season. I didn’t race after the first week of the Vuelta when I crashed, and so it’s taken make a while to get back up to speed,” he said.
“I’m still getting there, but it was a good off-season and it was worth it. I went to a lot of cool places all over the world.”
Jumbo-Visma arrived in the UAE packing a team with options for all scenarios.
Olav Kooij barreled to fourth in the stage 1 reduced sprint, while Kuss and rising Brit Thomas Gloag give options for the two uphill finishes.
“I just want to get a feel for being in the bunch again,” Kuss said. “The summit finishes are good for testing myself, but I don’t have any expectations – I’m just building slowly.”
Kuss brushed off an early crash Monday and finished the stage unscathed after spending hours in a small chase group.
Despite toiling in the pursuit, Kuss was on his bike – so he was probably enjoying himself anyway.