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Two of the U.S.’s brightest stars hit the ground running in their quests for Tour de France selection Sunday.
Simmons bossed the break to scoop a haul of mountain points that belied his burly frame.
“With so long out of competition I could feel I really needed to get the engine going so for me it was nice to make a big effort,” Simmons said at the finish, clad in his new red tunic.
“If you’re out the front you can have to try to get something out of it because today the break, we didn’t know if we could make it. We take what we can.”
Simmons is looking to book his ticket for his Tour de France debut with Trek-Segafredo.
Sidelined since the end of March with illness, Simmons is working toward a role shepherding stage-hunting teammates through the perilous opening phase of the Tour next month.
Simmons’ KoM-crushing antics in Suisse parody his unlikely rise to the Tirreno-Adriatico climber’s jersey this spring as he dialed down for the classics.
“The jersey for me is definitely a goal, but it’s more just to get the legs going,” he said. “We did a race just to get warmed up Thursday and I really suffered, so I knew I needed some efforts to get going so it’s a nice prize for that.”
Kuss kicks with Tour de France rivals
Kuss and Simmons traded characteristics in Sunday’s hilly circuit stage around Küsnacht.
When Simmons was done cranking on the climbs, his fellow Coloradan sprinted to ninth in an uphill finish.
Kuss finished in a pack of Tour-bound stars including yellow jersey contenders Adam Yates, Geraint Thomas and Aleksandr Vlasov.
“It was a tough stage,” said Jumbo Visma director Marc Reef. “The pace was very high. The classification teams were already in control today and on the last climb, it completely exploded. The strongest remained, and Sepp could follow and compete with the others.”
Kuss survived the frantic final while Tour classification stars like Thibaut Pinot and Daniel Martínez were dropped.
“That gives us confidence for the coming days,” Reef said. “We can build on that. The other guys also showed a good level today.”
Like Simmons, Kuss is using Suisse to prove his Tour de France form.
Kuss is a very likely part of Jumbo-Visma’s “Tour eight,” but still needs to rubberstamp hims selection alongside Critérium du Dauphiné-conquering teammates Primož Roglič, Wout van Aert, and Jonas Vingegaard.
The high mountains of the back half of the Tour de Suisse will show how Kuss goes against riders like Martínez, Yates and Vlasov on his favored hunting ground – and maybe score his space at the Grand Départ.