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Sepp Kuss won’t always be giving teammates his wheel.
Superdomestique Sepp made his name with monster mountain pulls for Jumbo-Visma captain Primož Roglič, but the Coloradan climbing king and his Dutch team want more than that.
A series of early season stage races this year will see the 27-year-old continue to develop his own captaincy creds while dovetailing with Roglič where the two share a startline.
“Sepp has the ambition to develop his own GC leadership and he will have his own opportunities for that, also while riding as a helper for Primož,” team director Grischa Niermann told VeloNews. “He finished 8th in the Vuelta last year, so it doesn’t mean if Primoz is on the start line that Sepp can’t achieve a GC result himself.”
Jumbo-Visma officials confirmed to VeloNews that Kuss is slated for racing at the top-tier Tirreno-Adriatico and Itzulia Basque Country stage-races this spring before a possible captaincy slot at Tour de Romandie late April.
The question of GC leadership has long sat on Kuss’ shoulder as the U.S. waits on its next grand tour star. Kuss packs the ambition and the skills going uphill, but time trialing and consistency have been the handbrake on classification racing.
Long hours on the TT bike last winter and increasing experience saw Kuss hit his stage-racing groove at the 2o21 Vuelta a España. He was poised in the top-10 for two weeks before finishing eighth overall in Santiago de Compostela, all while helping Roglič to his third straight red jersey.
“For me, it wasn’t so much the plan to race for GC position at the Vuelta but we just wanted to see,” Kuss told VeloNews this winter. “I had some bad days, but overall it was my most consistent grand tour yet, so I guess I could see that progression.
“Next year it would be nice to try GC in [one-week] stage races and see how far I can get. And if that doesn’t work out, it’s okay. But it’s a nice goal to work on and it keeps you motivated, and every race you do has that focus.”
Jumbo-Visma is committed to supporting Kuss in his classification aspirations this year.
Further focused TT drills and a stack of stage-racing this spring shows the team working to buff out the blemishes in its Coloradan diamond in the rough.
“TTs are something Sepp has to really work on and he improved that last year, but still a lot of up and downs. That’s still a working point if he wants to be a GC leader one day,” Niermann said.
“That’s the most crucial part – being consistent and having a good TT because climbing of course he’s already capable of doing that with the best. Sepp’s always working on that and is again this winter.”
‘Always a part of our biggest goals’
That’s not to say that Kuss will stray far from his bread-and-butter.
The Coloradan is already confirmed for three weeks of support at the Tour de France as Roglič and Jonas Vingegaard aim to bring a different type of yellow jersey to the Dutch squad.
“He will of course play a big role in our grand tour ambitions in 2022, especially in the Tour where he proved in the past years he’s a key helper for our GC guys,” Niermann said.
Kuss is slated to line up in Copenhagen this July as part of a potentially crushing Jumbo-Visma crew. Wout van Aert, Steven Kruijswijk and newcomer Rohan Dennis fill out the provisional roster alongside Kuss, Roglič and 2021 podium-finisher Vingegaard.
It’s illustrious company, but Kuss isn’t there to make the numbers.
“We’ll see how it goes with Sepp, but he’s a very, very important rider for the team and he’s always part of our biggest goals concerning general classifications,” Niermann said.
Initial sketch of Sepp Kuss’ 2022 season:
- Tirreno-Adriatico: March 7-13
- Itzulia Basque Country: April 4-9
- Tour de Romandie: April 26-May 5
- Tour de France: July 1-24