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Tour de France

Sepp Kuss on second half of Tour de France: ‘We have a lot to look forward to’

Hot off the stage win on Mont Ventoux, a revived Jumbo-Visma looks to possible podium in Paris.

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NIMES, France (VN) — Sepp Kuss is saving the best for last in the 2021 Tour de France.

The Colorado climber is shifting gears from helping Primož Roglič to helping Jonas Vingegaard, the sensational Tour rookie who is unexpectedly fighting for the podium in Paris.

It was a double delight for Jumbo-Visma on Wednesday, with Wout van Aert winning the stage, and Vingegaard turning the screws to Tadej Pogačar at the top of Mont Ventoux.

“The ambiance was really good [at dinner],” Kuss told VeloNews. “We were first of all sad to lose Tony [Martin] to a crash, but already with Wout with the stage win, which was incredible. It was cool to hear on the radio how he was doing and the director encouraging him, and with Jonas just killing everybody. We have a lot to look forward to.”

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The big win was just what the team needed after losing Primož to injuries in the first week. The team’s also lost Robert Gesink and Tony Martin to crashes, leaving just five riders to try to nurse Tour rookie Vingegaard to Paris within podium range.

Protecting Jonas Vingegaard all the way to Paris

Kuss said Jumbo-Visma doesn’t want to pile on too much pressure yet on the young Dane, who hit a new level this spring with a series of high-profile wins.

“We just want him to stay calm and take every day as it comes,” Kuss said. “If he has those same legs, he can do a lot even in the third week, but it’s his first Tour, so we don’t want to put too much pressure on him.”

With Olympics-bound van Aert promising to ride all the way to Paris, the Belgian can try to win the final time trial as well as help push on select stage finales as well as provide a big engine for Vingegaard.

“If Wout sets his mind to it, he can do anything,” Kuss said. “With Jonas, we always knew he was really strong, and when he changed something in his mind that he can really go for it, he’s unstoppable. That’s been nice to see.”

Also read: ‘I cracked a little’ — Tadej Pogačar under attack on Ventoux

Vingegaard put Pogačar under pressure at the top of Ventoux, and climbed up to third overall Wednesday.

Does Kuss see a chink in the yellow jersey’s armor?

“We’ll see, it’s one day out of many, and he also has to gauge his efforts,” Kuss said. “He’s human — we all are.”

And what about Kuss?

“I feel OK, not amazing, you can’t do magic things,” Kuss said at the start Thursday. “We’ll see. There are a lot of hard stages to come, so hopefully, I will feel better, but I am not stressed about it.”