Tour de France: Sepp Kuss is in, Brandon McNulty is out, which other US riders will race?

Which US riders will start the Tour de France on July 1 in Bilbao? Here's the latest on who will make the grade.

Photo: Gruber Images/Velo

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Final start lists are not yet confirmed, but a solid crew of U.S. riders will be heading to the Tour de France next month packing dreams of glory.

Velo checked across all the major WorldTour teams to confirm the latest status of the Tour-bound candidates among the American peloton, and there are a few surprises.

With only eight starters per team, selection to the Tour is always highly competitive. It remains to be seen which riders will be tapped in the coming weeks to punch their tickets to start the 2023 Tour in Bilbao on July 1.

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Teams pick only the strongest and best-prepared for the season’s most important race, but a spot on the team can often depend on bad luck or top result of one of their teammates.

Riders have been training and sacrificing for months. A ticket to the Tour is the dream of any elite men’s professional career.

This year’s U.S. crop won’t have any front-line yellow jersey favorites, but there will be a mix of stage-hunters, super-domestiques, workers, and stars in the making.

Nothing is guaranteed. Right now, riders are waiting for that call from a sport director for the final OK or to break the bad news.

Kuss, Powless, Jorgenson all but in

NIelson Powless and. Sepp Kuss after stage 21 of the 2020 Tour de France
Powless and Kuss, shown here at the 2020 Tour de France, are both expected to start their fourth Tours. (Photo: James Startt/Velo)

A few names are all but assured. Only a final-hour crash or illness will stop them from making the start.

These include Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma), Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost), and Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar). All three will be playing headline roles on their respective teams across three weeks.

The 28-year-old Kuss, who helped chaperone Primož Roglič to the maglia rosa at the Giro d’Italia, will return to the Tour for his fourth Tour start and what will be his first attempt at the Giro-Tour double, a challenge for any rider.

A stage-winner in 2021, Kuss will slot into the “Killer Bees” mountain tram at Jumbo-Visma to pace Jonas Vingegaard across the Tour’s highest cols. With Primož Roglič not starting, and Steven Kruijswijk crashing out of the Dauphiné, the team will be leaning on Kuss to keep his powder dry for the climb-heavy back half of the race.

Powless, 26, is also expected to return for what will be his fourth Tour appearance as well.

EF Education-EasyPost will be backing Richard Carapaz in a bid for the final podium, but depending how the race unfolds, Powless will see his chances in select stages as well as ride as the team’s No. 2 GC option. Twelfth overall last year and riding within seconds of the yellow jersey early in the race, Powless is hoping to keep his steady rise at the Tour moving upward.

Though he will leave Movistar at the end of the season, Jorgenson will have freedom to chase stage wins in the wake of his spectacular Tour debut last year, when he rode into three winning breakaways, and hit the top-5 each time.

Movistar will riding to support Enric Mas in a bid for the final podium, but Jorgenson — who turns 24 on the Tour’s opening stage — will see his chances in the always aggressive Spanish team.

McNulty out, everyone else ‘on the bubble’

Joe Dombrowski, shown here riding with Powless last year in the Pyrénées, isn’t expecting he’ll be called to race. (Photo: Gruber Images/Velo)

Behind that sparkling trio, there are a solid half-dozen who are on their respective team’s long lists. Team insiders say final selections will be by the end of the Tour de Suisse, which runs from June 11-18.

Among the other Americans who are trying to elbow into the Tour include Lawson Craddock (Jayco-AlUla), Magnus Sheffield (Ineos Grenadiers), Sean Quinn (EF Education-EasyPost), Kevin Vermaerke (Team DSM), Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo), and Joe Dombrowski (Astana-Qazaqstan).

Dombrowski, who made his Tour debut last year, told Velo it’s long-shot odds that he’ll be returning to the Tour next month.

The Virginian, who raced a heavy spring calendar that ran from the Tour of the Alps, the Giro d’Italia and into this week’s Critérium du Dauphiné, will only return to the Tour only if there is a raft of final-hour injuries and illnesses across Astana-Qazaqstan. The team will build around sprinter Mark Cavendish and his quest for a 35th history-making stage win, with Alexey Lutsenko chasing stage wins in the mountains and a top-10 in the GC.

UAE Team Emirates officials confirmed to Velo that Brandon McNulty, who won a stage at the Giro d’Italia in May, will miss what would be his third straight Tour de France.

Leaving McNulty time to recover after the Giro, the team is rallying around two-time winner Tadej Pogačar, with riders such as Adam Yates, Marc Soler, Mikkel Bjerg, and Rafa Majka expected to ride in support.

Others see better chances of punching their Tour tickets, but nothing is guaranteed in the closing weeks ahead of the Tour.

Craddock, 31, is angling for a spot on Jayco-AlUla in what would be his third Tour start, and his first since 2018. Craddock’s varied skillset plays well to help both GC captain Simon Yates as well as sprinter ace Dylan Groenewegen.

Sheffield, 21, is hoping for a Tour debut, but it’s highly competitive inside the Ineos Grenadiers bus that also includes the likes of Tom Pidcock, Dani Martínez, and Michal Kwiatkowski. A winner of some big races in his WorldTour rookie season last year, Sheffield has yet to race a grand tour.

With Egan Bernal also expected to make an emotional return to the Tour, Sheffield could be sent to the Vuelta instead later this season with an eye toward a Tour debut in 2024 if he’s not tapped this summer.

Simmons is also hoping to return for what would be his second Tour start, but nothing is guaranteed yet for the Coloradan.

Last year, the 22-year-old was equally impressive in his Tour debut, riding into no less than five breakaways. A top result of 11th in stage 10 doesn’t accurately reflect his aggressiveness and intention.

The Trek-Segafredo rider pulled the plug early on his spring classics campaign after things were not going as well as he expected. He’ll be returning to the Tour de Suisse this weekend, where he won the climber’s competition and hit fourth in one of the big mountain stages, to prove he deserves a trip back to the Tour.

Vermaerke, who crashed out in the first week in his Tour debut last year, will also race the Tour de Suisse later this month with hopes of assuring his return to the Tour. Team DSM officials confirmed Vermaerke, 22, is on the team’s long list.

Quinn, racing this week at the Dauphiné, is also on EF’s long list for a possible Tour debut.

So how many will start? For sure, this year’s Tour crew will not equal the all-time high for U.S. starters of 10, a mark set in 2011 and in 1986.

It’s more likely the peloton will see between five to seven U.S. starters. Kuss, Powless, and Jorgenson are all but locks, with Craddock and Simmons looking likely, with Vermaerke and Sheffield also in the running.

US riders in the Tour de France by year:

Neilson Powless came within seconds of the yellow jersey in the first week of last year’s Tour. (Photo: Gruber Images/Velo)

2022 — 7
2021 — 4
2020 — 3
2019 – 4
2018 — 5
2017 — 3
2016 — 5
2015 — 3
2014 — 9
2013 — 6
2012 — 8
2011 — 10
2010 — 8
2009 — 7
2008 — 4
2007 — 6
2006 — 8
2005 — 9
2004 — 7
2003 — 6
2002 — 9
2001 — 8
2000 — 9
1999 — 8
1998 — 6
1997 — 6
1996 — 3
1995 — 2
1994 — 3
1993 — 3
1992 — 5
1991 — 5
1990 — 7
1989 — 5
1988 — 6
1987 — 7
1986 — 10
1985 — 2
1984 — 2
1983 — 1
1982 — 1
1981 — 1

Matteo Jorgenson is eyeing a stage win in the wake of his spectacular 2022 Tour debut. (Photo: Gruber Images/Velo)

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