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He’s the first American Tour de France stage winner in a decade, and at 26, he’s just getting started. This week, Colorado native Sepp Kuss, one of America’s most promising cycling talents, joins Bobby & Jens.
Since that breakout Tour de Frace performance just weeks ago, Sepp has taken some time to recover and be with his girlfriend, opting out of an Olympics road race that many — including co-host Bobby Julich — have said was perfectly suited to him.
Before he was deciding which top races to compete in, Sepp was a mountain biker and focused on his studies at CU Boulder. “I wasn’t really set on cycling at that point,” he said, even though he was getting top results including national collegiate championships. “It was my passion and my hobby, but I wasn’t gonna drop school at that point to pursue cycling, just because I didn’t know how far I could go with it or how real of a goal it was for me at that time.”
It wouldn’t be until his senior year that he would really focus on road riding, which almost immediately yielded results. Soon after graduating, Kuss earned a contract with Rally Cycling opening up big opportunities like the Tour of California and Tour of Utah. Sepp discusses those major transitions, from college to professional racing, and then to the WorldTour.
Though he had a good feeling about joining Jumbo-Visma — then called LottoNL-Jumbo — the decision was not without uncertainty. “As I was just about to sign the contract, I thought, ‘Oh shit, what am I doing? This is crazy because I’m gonna totally get killed in Europe,’” he recalled.
Luckily, the partnership with Jumbo-Visma has turned into a fruitful one, to say the least, with Sepp developing into a top rider on what has become one of the most dominant teams in professional cycling. “They made me feel like no matter what happened, they were going to help me become better,” he said.
Sepp talks about his current role as a top domestique supporting the likes of Primož Roglič and Jonas Vingegaard in the mountains, noting that it’s fun to work for top riders when they’re consistently winning. He also discusses his ambitions in stage racing and grand tours, where his profile has only risen since his Tour stage win. He takes us through that win and the tactics that yielded the greatest result of his career.
But before he cemented his status as a top climber with that stage win in Andorra, the team’s most recent Grand Tour campaign seemed like it would be a disappointment after team leader Primož Roglič dropped out early on, along with three other teammates. The team more than salvaged their Tour, however, finishing with four stage wins and second place overall. Sepp takes us inside the team’s mentality and strategy that led to the success. And later he offers up his own approach to the famously demanding sport of cycling, providing advice wise beyond his 26 years.
“Bobby & Jens” is a weekly VeloNews podcast brought to you by Zwift. It stars former pros Bobby Julich and Jens Voigt and features conversations with top athletes, coaches, emerging stars, and other newsmakers from the wide world of cycling. A new episode drops every Friday. Subscribe now wherever you get your podcasts.