LottoNL-Jumbo: No grand tours in 2018 for Americans Kuss, Powless

The American neo-pros have great potential, sport director Merijn Zeeman said, but aren't ready for three-week races.

There won’t be any grand tours this season for LottoNL-Jumbo recruits Sepp Kuss and Neilson Powless.

That doesn’t mean the highly touted pair won’t be busy. The American neo-pros will see plenty of racing in their respective WorldTour debuts this year.

Kuss, 23, has already raced tours in Valencia and Algarve, while Powless, 21, also debuted at Valencia with the Dutch outfit. The pair will see a packed European spring calendar before returning to home roads for their season’s major goals.

“We won’t bring them to a grand tour this year,” LottoNL sport director Merijn Zeeman said. “We’ll give them a chance to race step-by-step, without too much pressure. The most important is that they have a good development plan.”

LottoNL scooped up the two Americans for 2018 on two-year neo-pro deals. Kuss moved up from Rally, with Powless coming from Hagens Berman Axeon. Zeeman sees big capacity in both.

“We believe [Kuss] has big potential to become a great climber,” he said. “Powless is a future GC rider. It’s always difficult to know how far they can go, but we believe he can progress into a GC rider.”

Both are among the latest crop of young American talent making the transition into Europe.

Zeeman said the team is intent on giving them time and space to develop and learn about racing at the WorldTour level without too much pressure, at least in the first season.

The focus of their respective seasons will be what he called the “American summer,” with such races as Utah and Colorado and the Canadian WorldTour races offering a chance to perform after getting a few months and experience into their legs.

“Every race is a learning opportunity,” he said. “We want to give them a chance to go step-by-step, to learn about nutrition, training, and preparation. And we will give them chances to race.”