VN Awards: North American man of the year

Sepp Kuss had us waving the stars and stripes in multiple grand tours.

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The 2021 VeloNews Awards are running all the rest of the month for VeloNews and Outside+ members.

Sepp Kuss’s stage win at the Tour de France should stand as one of the best days of racing for U.S male riders this season. And that’s saying something, given Brandon McNulty’s near-miss at the Olympics, and Neilson Powless’s huge victory at Clasíca San Sebastien.

Kuss’s Tour win confirmed what many already knew: that the Coloradan is one of the best climbers in the peloton and is growing in confidence and racecraft by the season. His victory was the first Tour win by a U.S. rider in 10 years, a hallmark of the troughs and the rising peak of Americans in the WorldTour.

Kuss’s victory was a result that brought a smile and a sense of satisfaction to fans of all nationalities. He is a selfless domestique and faultless team player — there have been many times he’s looked capable of riding away from his captain, Primož Roglič, in the high mountains, but has been loyal to the last. For Kuss to seize his opportunity on the biggest stage was a result well-earned.

Kuss now owns victories at the Vuelta a España, Critérium du Dauphiné and Tour de France. Now, the question is whether the 26-year-old Kuss will transition toward team leadership and GC ambitions. Speaking recently with VeloNews, Kuss said it’s on the long-term agenda, but he’s in no rush to go for GC just yet.

Kuss could go a very long way — it feels like 2021 has been another major step on that journey.