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Jumbo-Visma on meteoric rise of Sepp Kuss: ‘We have found the key to his development’

Team director Merijn Zeeman reveals the 'nice challenge' of transforming Coloradan talent into grand tour star.

Sepp Kuss climbed to the top of the peloton in 2020, and as far as his Jumbo-Visma team is concerned, there’s more to come.

Young Coloradan confirmed himself as one of the best climbers in the WorldTour through a series of stellar performances at the Tour de France and Vuelta a España, and his Dutch squad is looking to squeeze yet more potential out of the budding superstar.

For Jumbo-Visma sport director Merijn Zeeman, Kuss is a project in progress, and as far as he’s concerned, “that process is far from complete.”

“If you want to be a grand tour winner, you have to be able to ride fast, to recover very well; you have to master many different kinds of aspects,” Zeeman told Wielerflits. “Sepp has mastered a number of those aspects, but certainly not all of them. We would like to continue working with him on this in the coming years. He now has an extreme added value in our team.”

The 26-year-old was a vital cog in Primož Roglič’s grand tour success this summer, shepherding his Slovenian leader through marquee summit finishes such as the Alto de l’Angliru and Col de la Loze.

While team duties prevented him from racing for his own ambitions through 2020, Kuss won a stage at the Critérium du Dauphiné as he has emerged as North America’s hottest grand tour prospect. Zeeman is relishing the prospect of getting him there.

“The challenge is to see whether he can ever ride for the GC himself or not,” Zeeman said. “At the moment, I don’t think Sepp can do that yet, but we will work with him on that, and it’s a nice challenge. And perhaps Sepp is indeed a rider who can take over from Primož, Tom [Dumoulin] and Steven [Kruijswijk] in a few years’ time.”

Kuss joined Jumbo-Visma in 2018 in a transfer from Rally Cycling. Since Kuss joined the WorldTour, Jumbo-Visma has drilled into the data to discover what makes him tick, transforming the raw potential into world-beating climbing chops.

“Sepp is a process that we enjoy very much,” Zeeman said. “I remember very well that [team DS] Grischa Niermann scouted him in the Tour of California in 2017. Then we tested him and started working with him. In 2018, he had a very difficult time in the first part of the season, and we really learned and invented some things with him about nutrition and training. Together we have really found the key to how Sepp has managed to develop so well.”

Kuss has long flirted with, but never committed to, the idea of becoming a grand tour racer. Jumbo-Visma may have other ideas.