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Veteran Tejay van Garderen rode in a support role for EF Pro Cycling in his ninth career Tour start, while Neilson Powless (EF Pro Cycling) and Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) each impressed in their respective maiden Tours.
Powless featured in four breakaways, while Kuss was the last teammate for Primož Roglič in the decisive climbs across the Alps. Both earned top-5’s in stage results, and Kuss punched into the top-15 overall playing the role of climbing domestique. Van Garderen was mentor and road captain to a young and ambitious EF Pro Cycling team, and played a key role in helping to organize the final-day solidarity movement among the peloton to make a statement on racism.
Here’s a look at the highlights for each U.S. rider:
Sepp Kuss, 26 (Jumbo-Visma)
Tour stats: 15th overall at 42:20 back, 4th in stage 17, 6th in stage 15
Kuss just got better as the Tour unfolded, and rose to the occasion in the Alps when it counted. The Durango, CO rider was the last man for Roglič in the closing mountain stages and played a critical role in protecting the Jumbo-Visma captain going into the final climbing time trial. The Coloradan celebrated his 26th birthday on the Grand Colombier and confirmed he’s the best U.S. climber in a generation. Kuss downplayed his future chances of leading a GC team, insisting he’d rather win stages and help his team win.
What’s next: World championships, Vuelta a España
What he said: “It was a beautiful way to finish the Tour. At the end of the day, we’re happy with what we did in this Tour. It is what it is. You put a lot of time and effort into it. It feels strange to finish here. The third week [was] really tough. But for me personally, I felt better and better every stage. I felt better in the third week than in the first week. That’s encouraging.”
Neilson Powless, 24 (EF Pro Cycling)
Tour stats: 56th overall at 3:03:09, 9th in white jersey classification, 4th stage 6, 5th stage 8
Powless took full advantage of EF Pro Cycling’s attack-oriented strategy. With team captain Rigoberto Urán in reserve for the GC, Powless was given room to move in key stages. The Tour rookie rode into four major breakaways and hit the top-5 twice in the first week. Like Kuss, he was able to race the Tour during his birthday, something that likely will be a one-off if the Tour returns to its traditional date of July in 2021. Powless also made headlines around the world after becoming the first Native North American to race the 117-year-old event.
What’s next: world championships
What he said: “Now that the final stage is over, I can appreciate the beauty of it. The whole Tour was an amazing experience. I didn’t think I would be able to come to Europe this year, and I made it, and was able to start the Tour. I achieved a life-long dream of mine to race the Tour. Now I can set new ones.”
Tejay van Garderen, 32 (EF Pro Cycling)
Tour stats: 91st overall at 4:22:20, ninth career Tour
Twice in the top-5 at the Tour, van Garderen happily slipped into a helper role in this Tour. With Urán finishing in the top-10 and the team coming away with a stage victory, it was a job well done. Van Garderen did his work pulling on the middle mountains and helped deliver the Colombian climbers safely to the final climbs. Van Garderen later played a key role in helping to organize the final-day effort among the riders to wear face masks emblazoned with “No To Racism” across the front in what was the first major statement from among the peloton in 2020.
What’s next: no races on program
What he said: “‘Rigo’ is up there, and we are ready to support him. The third week is always the test in a grand tour. We haven’t seen any cracks, but when you get to the top level, you don’t see those cracks until the third week of racing.”