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Kuss, 24 years old, was riding for continental team Rally Cycling only two years ago. Now he is trying to help his team win a grand tour with hot favorite Roglic.
“Yes, a little bit,” he told VeloNews when asked if he had dreamed of such a situation.
“The Giro is one of those races with the most spectacle, and it’s one of the races that first crosses your mind when you think about a race you really want to be a part of.”
The Colorado native was one of two Americans to join the Dutch WorldTour team for 2018. Neilson Powless, 21, came from amateur team Axeon Hagens Berman, and Kuss from Team Rally.
Kuss climbed quickly to the WorldTour ranks. After a mountain bike sponsorship fell through, he tried road racing. In 2016 he won the queen stages in Redlands and in the Tour de Beauce. The following season, he placed 10th in the Tour of California’s Mt. Baldy stage and sixth overall in the Colorado Classic.
After signing for Dutch squad Jumbo, he proved himself in the team. Last year he won three stages and the overall of the Tour of Utah. That result made sure he rode the 2018 Vuelta a España. With Kuss’s help on the climbs, Steven Kruijswijk finished fourth overall in the Vuelta behind winner Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott).
“It’s hard to say what I need to accomplish because last year I never even had envisioned doing the Vuelta and this year I had not even thought about doing the Giro, so sometimes it’s better when it’s all a surprise.”
Because Robert Gesink crashed and could not race, general manager Richard Plugge called Kuss and gave him the remaining eighth spot. It is a big task because his leader Roglic is one of the clear favorites, and a rider who has won all three races he entered this year: the UAE Tour, Tirreno-Adriatico, and the Tour de Romandie.
On Saturday he won the Giro’s opening eight-kilometre time trial and now Kuss has the pink jersey to help defend.
“In the first road stage with the pink jersey, it was a bit of a harder stage than maybe expected because it wasn’t a traditional sprint stage. Other teams look for their opportunities and it makes these days a bit harder.”
Kuss added that it was a “pretty incredible opportunity” to be on a team looking for the overall win, “even is it still a long way to go.”
Kuss and the other six riders are giving their all for Roglic without space for personal goals.
“No, no personal goals — just to help Primoz and that’s pretty much the same for everybody on the team,” he confirmed. “We all have full commitment to the leader and that’s pretty cool.”