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Sepp Kuss anticipating heated yellow jersey battle in Tour de France in 2023

Sepp Kuss on 2023 goals: 'I'd like to go back to the Tour and later the Vuelta'

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Sepp Kuss is bracing for a heated battle at the 2023 Tour de France as Jumbo-Visma hopes to fend off Tadej Pogačar and a reinforced UAE Team Emirates.

Speaking to the Spanish daily MARCA at the recent Asian criteriums, the American climbing star said Jumbo-Visma will need to be at the top of its game in 2023 if the Dutch team hopes to defend the yellow jersey.

Kuss expects the growing rivalry with Pogačar and UAE Team Emirates to only heat up even more in 2023.

“It’s going to be difficult to remain on top,” Kuss told MARCA. “UAE signed a lot of good riders, like [Adam] Yates, but we are still a very united group. We have riders who can win on every type of race.”

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In the Alps last summer, Jumbo-Visma attacked and isolated Pogačar on the stage over the Col du Galibier, and put Jonas Vingegaard into the yellow jersey for good in a stunning tactical ploy.

For 2023, Kuss admits that UAE will be even stronger and Jumbo-Visma will have to be even more creative if the team hopes to defend yellow.

“We’ll have to find other ways to attack and to use our riders,” Kuss told MARCA. “This year we had both Primož and Jonas situated very well to attack Tadej, but we don’t know what we will expect next year. The most important thing is to have a very complete team to take on the different situations.”

Kuss is hoping for a return to the Tour in 2023 to continue his part as elite helper for Jumbo-Visma’s top captains.

Kuss, 28, played a key role in helping teammate Vingegaard topple Pogačar at the 2022 Tour, and he hopes to be back next year for what would be his fourth Tour start.

“Right now the plans are not yet finalized, but Jonas wants to defend his Tour de France title,”he said. “Others will go to the Giro d’Italia, which will have a lot of time trials. We still don’t know, but there’s a lot of time to define everything.”

Kuss: ‘I’d like to go back to the Tour and later the Vuelta’

Sepp Kuss at the Tour de France
Sepp Kuss was key mountain man for Jonas Vingegaard at the Tour de France. (Photo: Tim de Waele / Getty Images)

Jumbo-Visma will hold a pre-season get-together this fall to outline the first discussions of the team’s larger goals for 2023.

With Vingegaard’s breakthrough Tour win in July, the Dutch-based team will put a title defense at the center of the team’s grand tour plans.

Primož Roglič, who crashed out of both the Tour and Vuelta in 2022, might be putting a run at the Giro back on his calendar, especially with the Italian grand tour loaded up on time trial kilometers.

For Kuss, who has a contract with Jumbo-Visma through 2024, it’s all about being at the service of the team.

“I’d like to go back to the Tour and later the Vuelta, but someday I’d like to be at the Giro,” Kuss said. “What happens is that normally in the spring in this part of the season I’m usually not feeling very good. It will be in a few days, in the presentation of the team, that we will define more the calendars.”

Since joining the WorldTour in 2018, he’s emerged as one of the peloton’s most lethal climbing lieutenants, and is capable of helping the team as well as pick off some personal results along the way.

Kuss shrugged off reports that Vingegaard suffered from all the pressure and attention that came with winning Denmark’s first yellow jersey in 25 years.

Vingegaard kept a low profile after his dramatic victory, but returned to race in September with two stage wins and second overall at the CRO Tour, and 16th at Il Lombardia.

“He seemed calm to me. As a person, he needed a break after big goals like the Tour,” he said. “He spends a lot of energy preparing for these races. He has to race a lot away from home. It’s hard for everyone, but he is so focused that he needs a bit of time with his family to recover after the races.”