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So much so that his Jumbo-Visma team is banking on it.
The Coloradan climber is preparing for his second start at the Tour, and will be on the front-line defense and offense for team captain Primož Roglič in a bid for the yellow jersey.
“Sepp is a guarantee for the team now,” Jumbo-Visma sport director Grischa Niermann told VeloNews. “Sepp is already quite predictable. That level of consistency is very important to us.”
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The 26-year-old impressed in his Tour debut in 2020, riding alongside Roglič in all the key mountain stages. Kuss’ performances, especially in the “queen stage” at Col de la Loze in the French Alps, helped cement his place in the team’s hierarchy.
Tom Dumoulin’s stop-and-start approach to 2021 only saw Kuss’s importance rise within the team. Jumbo-Visma tapped rising Danish talent Jonas Vingegaard to fill Dumoulin’s void for the Tour, so he and Kuss will do their best to flank Roglič deep into the mountains.
The expected return of Steven Kruijswijk, third in the 2019 Tour, will give the team added heft at the top of the GC. The Dutch rider crashed out in last year’s Critérium du Dauphiné and missed the Tour.
Like most of Jumbo-Visma’s Tour-bound squad, Kuss is coming off an extended altitude training camp in Spain’s Sierra Nevada.
After a solid spring, capped by a string of top-10s in stages at the Volta a Catalunya and Tour de Romandie, Kuss rolls into the Dauphiné with an eye on winning a stage. Last year, he won a stage and finished 10th overall ahead of his Tour debut.
Since Roglič is not racing until the Tour, the team will be riding at the Dauphiné to support Kruijswijk, and test the overall level ahead of the Tour de France.
The stakes are high for Kuss and the team, so much so that Kuss opted to take his name out of contention for one of the two spots the U.S. men’s road team will have for the Tokyo Olympic Games in August.
The climb-heavy Mount Fuji route would favor Kuss, but with the Tour and Vuelta a España at the center of his 2021 racing season, Kuss said trying to squeeze in a long trip to race in the Olympics was not an ideal fit.
It’s an exciting time for Sepp Kuss. He can respond either at the front, setting tempo for his Jumbo-Visma team leader Primoź Roglič, or off the front in search of a stage win. We recently caught up with Kuss to discuss his stellar season and more: https://t.co/i1HDfqSE17 pic.twitter.com/jWH58zBIEW
— peloton® (@pelotonmagazine) February 10, 2021
Niermann said the team is counting on Kuss to deliver from now all the way through to the Vuelta a España.
“Sepp is now in good shape,” Niermann said in a telephone call. “He is heading to the Dauphiné, and we know we want him to be in good condition. With his preparation, we have a 99.4 percent chance that the rider is in top shape. Sepp’s level of consistency, that is really important for us, and for the team going into the Tour and all the grand tours.”
Jumbo-Visma is more than pleased with Kuss’s progression and commitment, so much so the team signed a contract extension to keep him in team colors through 2024.