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Sepp Kuss back at his best for Roglic’s Vuelta push

The young American rider is having another strong Vuelta performance, riding in support of GC contender Primoz Roglic.

ARES DEL MAESTRAT, Spain (VN) — Sepp Kuss is back at his best, helping Jumbo-Visma teammate Primoz Roglic in his bid to win the Vuelta a España.

Kuss drove the front of the race in stage 5, marking everyone but the attacking Miguel Angel López (Astana). Then Roglic took over to follow Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), while Kuss marked Nairo Quintana (Movistar) to the finish line.

“It’s still early in the race, but if I can keep that feeling for the whole race then hopefully that’ll be a super boost for Primoz,” the American told VeloNews.

Earlier this season, Roglic won all three stage races he entered before the Giro d’Italia, and started the Italian grand tour as the hot favorite. Kuss rode in support for him there, too, but the 24-year-old admitted he was off his best form, particularly when compared to his performance in his grand tour debut in the 2018 Vuelta a España.

“Definitely, something was missing; I was missing quite a bit in the Giro. For whatever reason, sometimes that’s just how it goes,” Kuss said. “I guess you could say you want to redeem yourself, to do a better job, and it’s always really nice to ride with Primoz. You want to be able to give back a bit more, and show that you’re capable of helping.”

Now, Kuss will be called upon to work for Roglic throughout the Vuelta. The American believes the 29-year-old Slovenian could collect his first grand tour win.

“[Primoz] has shown that he’s probably one of the strongest riders this season in the week-long races, and then, third place in the Giro is nothing to bat an eye at. So he’s got all the tools he needs to do well in these races,” Kuss said. “And we have a long [36.2km] time trial coming up. He’ll smash that. And, it’s looking good.”

Thus far, Kuss is managing well his efforts through the stages. Today’s stage 6, for example, which featured a smaller summit finish, allowed Kuss to go easier. Tomorrow, however, on the Mas de la Costa finish, he will be called up to work again for Roglic.

“You just kind of pick your moments, like today—just kind of sit up, find a good group, and save some energy. Because tomorrow’s finish looks pretty brutal,” Kuss said. “And then we have the day in Andorra, which is going to be really tough. And [I won’t be] going into any breakaways; that always takes a bit of energy.”

Kuss is hoping a good Vuelta a España ride will set him up for the 2020 season, when his Dutch WorldTour team will become even stronger with the addition of GC leader Tom Dumoulin.

“All these experiences riding for leaders like Primoz, Steven Kruijswijk, George Bennett, all these guys, helps out every every race you get to do with them,” Kuss said.