Culture

Day in the life: Sepp Kuss

Losing at Zwift, making raclette, and drinking cocktails – Coloradan climber is taking life easy with his girlfriend in Puigcerdà, Girona.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought professional cycling to a halt. In the coming weeks we will be reaching out to pro riders and other personalities from the sport to understand how their lives are continuing amidst the shutdown.

Coloradan Sepp Kuss has been on the cycling radar in North America, having enjoyed a prolific few years with Rally Cycling at the start of his career. Having dominated the 2018 Tour of Utah in his first season with Jumbo-Visma, Kuss jumped to the world’s attention last year. The 25-year-old formed a crucial cog in the team that shepherded Primoz Roglic to victory at the 2019 Vuelta a España, and netted an impressive solo stage victory in the process.

This year, Kuss is hoping to support his team’s powerful leadership trio of Roglic, Tom Dumoulin, and Steven Kruijswijk in their bid to take the yellow jersey away from Team Ineos at his Tour de France debut. While there are question marks arising over whether and when the Tour will be raced this year, Kuss is keeping positive in lockdown with his girlfriend in Spain.

Kuss propelled himself into the world’s spotlight with his Vuelta stage win. Photo: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Location: Puigcerdà, near Girona, Spain.

What are the current regulations for where you live about going outside?

It’s pretty much full lockdown. The roundabout that’s 100 meters from where we’re staying has police [staioned] there throughout the whole day, so if you want to go out and get groceries or something you have to have documentation. So yeah, you’re not really going out unless you need something urgent. You can’t ride outside either.

It’s OK so far. I find enough throughout the day to stay occupied so that the days don’t go by too slow. I think most of all, it’s just a drag riding on the trainer – but there’s always bigger problems in the world.

Did you consider coming back to the U.S. when this situation began to escalate?

At this point, my life and living situation is more set up in Europe with my girlfriend, and I’m trying to do my best to make it a home. And before everything really escalated I didn’t want to be stuck on one side of the ocean in case things do start up again.

But I think the main reason is it’s feeling more like home in Europe. Yeah, of course, I miss my family and friends back in the U.S. but that’s how it is and hopefully things lift at some point.

What races were you planning to do that have been canceled or postponed?

I was down for Paris-Nice before we pulled [out] from it (note: several teams, including Jumbo-Visma, pulled out of Paris-Nice in a bid to reduce risk of exposure to coronavirus).

I was down to do Tour of Catalunya, Tour de Romandie, Dauphine, but they’re all canceled. Then we’ll see what happens with the Tour.

What are you doing today?

So, I woke up, had some coffee, and studied a little bit of Spanish in the morning.

Then I just hopped on Zwift for an hour and just took it easy. It was just a little ride – a little of pedaling, a little of sweating. As long as I just do some riding every day and keep it consistent that’s enough at this point, just get those endorphins in.

Then I’ll have a little breakfast, lunch, brunch, whatever. I lose track of the time of day! Usually, me and my girlfriend, we try to make a more elaborate lunch. I think today we’re firing up the raclette machine or whatever you call it. We don’t get too experimental, but it’s nice to have good food and good company – so you can take a bit more time to cook nice things or bake and things like that.

Then in the afternoon, it’s usually a movie and a little siesta. We usually play board games in the evening, have a little cocktail, and dinner. It’s a pretty simple life! It’s not that much different from my normal life except you can’t go outside.

‘The raclette machine’ in action. Photo: Sepp Kuss

Tell us more about your workouts recently?

For the most part, I’ve been trying to do more specific workouts. I mean, I really hate riding the trainer. So that was the biggest thing I needed to overcome knowing I’d be locked down for who knows how long. So this last week was my first time trying out Zwift and it’s actually pretty fun. So I’ve been hopping into races when I can — it’s a good way of staying sharp and fit without the need to do, three, four hours on the trainer which is just too much mentally. If I feel good I ride hard or do a race, if I feel tired then I keep it low key.

I raced on Zwift yesterday and the day before, it’s fun. One of the races I did, my teammate Tobias [Foss] was in the race and we got smashed by some guy! I don’t know if his metrics were reliable or not, but we finished two and three so you know, that’s a bit of a bummer.

It’s pretty funny though, with Zwift, you feel almost ashamed for digging so deep for some virtual race. But yeah, it’s just nice to push yourself in a different way.

What indoor gear are you using?

I’m on a Tacx Neo. We’re lucky enough to have them as a sponsor. So it’s not too different to the setup we have warming up for TTs or things like that.

What is your motivation for training right now?

I would have no problem training the same amount whether we raced again this season or not. I just like the process, and like riding my bike. But right now, it’s also thinking, ‘OK, what’s the situation if the racing is in August to November and it’s full-on from there?’ You’re also thinking you don’t want to exert yourself too much now.

But for me, I always want to be training or riding and have some goals for the day.

How are you communicating with friends and family?

Usually Skype. It’s interesting to talk to friends and family back in the U.S. because up until now, it’s a bit of a different climate in terms of different state regulations, different local regulations. So some people it’s free reign, some people it’s close to full lockdown.

Have you received any helpful advice?

I think everybody’s kind of in a similar position of uncertainty. It’s pretty interesting times because there’s already a lot of teams that are taking pay cuts or are announcing they’re pulling certain sponsors and things like that.

I think every day we realize how much of an economic situation it is for us, even more now than the sporting side of just wanting to race. It’s now becoming a situation where we’re seeing how sponsors are part of the economies. I mean, we’re getting advice, but you know, everybody’s in a different boat of how they now have to handle the situation.

When do you think you’ll race again?

I really have no idea. The thing is that everything’s increasing at such a rate, but then you also wonder when it’ll plateau or start to go down. That might not be sudden, but I wonder in what waves we can re-integrate or start doing normal things again.