Sepp Kuss made for a surprise name on the teamsheet Friday when Jumbo-Visma confirmed its Giro d’Italia squad.
The U.S. climber ace was not slated to race the Italian tour in early sketches of Jumbo-Visma’s grand tour plans.
However, a heavy crash by former Giro d’Italia podium-finisher Wilco Kelderman at the recent Tirreno-Adriatico saw Kuss get the call to support Primož Roglič in Italy next month.
It will be the Coloradan’s first start at the “corsa rosa” since 2019.
“Sepp Kuss will take Wilco’s place. Very few riders can ride with the best as a domestique. We put Sepp in that category. He can be a decisive factor in the high mountains,” team performance chief Mathieu Heijboer said in a team release Friday.
Roglič and Kuss head toward a showdown with world champion Remco Evenepoel and grand tour warhorse Geraint Thomas when they roll out from the Abruzzo “grande partenza” next month.
Jumbo-Visma will pack a strong team alongside Roglič and Kuss in its quest to win the Giro for the first time in its current iteration. Robert Gesink, Tobias Foss, and Edoardo Affini will add further firepower for all terrain in a team that brings youth and experience.
A month -1 day until the Grande Partenza. 💕 pic.twitter.com/HphemzsYtV
— Team Jumbo-Visma cycling (@JumboVismaRoad) April 7, 2023
Shift from the Tour-Vuelta script
Kuss partnered up with Jonas Vingegaard when Jumbo-Visma won the Tour de France last summer and made for an integral part of Roglič’s three Vuelta a España victories.
His addition to the Giro squad is a boon for the grand tour powerhouse team.
“With Sepp, Primoz has an absolute top domestique who can stand by him for a long time. He has already demonstrated this several times during the Tour and the Vuelta. They are a good duo,” Heijboer said.
“Although losing Wilco is undoubtedly a setback, we’ll be as strong with Sepp.”
However, a return to the Giro makes for a radical shift from the Tour-Vuelta script Kuss sung from through the past three seasons.
The 28-year-old regularly spoke of how he favors a slow start to the season and feels he races better in the heat of the European mid-summer.
Jumbo-Visma officials confirmed to VeloNews that Kuss remains on the Tour de France long list.
A sixth-straight ride through the Vuelta could be at question however.
Kuss is currently atop Teide with the rest of Jumbo-Visma’s “Giro Eight.”
He and many more of the Italian selection will see one final tune-up at the Tour de Romandie before Kuss sees his first “grande partenza” in four years on May 6.