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Sepp Kuss on Tadej Pogačar: ‘Once he got the gap he was gone’

Strade Bianche: 'The Eagle of Durango' crashes twice but leads Jumbo-Visma across the gravel roads of Tuscany.

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SIENA, Italy (VN) — Sepp Kuss had a front-row view to Tadej Pogačar’s winning attack at Strade Bianche.

Once the Slovenian slipped the grip of the bunch, the Durango climber at Jumbo-Visma said the race was on for second place in the iconic gravel classic.

“When Pogačar attacked, I think it split up a little bit on the downhill,” Kuss said at the line. “He came with momentum and once he got the gap, then he was gone.”

Kuss shrugged two crashes to lead Jumbo-Visma at the iconic Italian race.

Kuss crossed the line 31st at 4:11 back, covered in dust and grime from hitting out on the Tuscany roads on a cold and windy day.

“It was a hard race, it was fun,” he said inside the Piazza del Campo. “It was good for me. I had a small little crash when the wind gust took everyone out but I was OK. Toward the end there I had another silly crash but I am fine.”

Kuss was in the front group when things split up, and the chasers couldn’t continue an organized pace. Kuss led Jumbo-Visma after pre-race leader and former winner Tiesj Benoot crashed out early.

Kuss, who was third in his season debut at the Faun-Ardèche Classic last weekend, was impressed with Pogačar’s big ride.

“I was thinking it would be a bit more of a headwind, and I think  it would be better to wait, but once he caught the tailwind section, he was gone. Strong ride,” Kuss said. “There was pretty big group, once everyone got organized they started riding but once you got the gap it’s hard to bring it back.”

This was Kuss’s second crack at Strade Bianche. Up next is Tirreno-Adriatico, where he will ride in support of Jonas Vingegaard, a winner last weekend at Drôme Classic.

“The only other time I did it was in 2018 when it was really rainy, and that’s when it’s easier. When it’s dry like this it’s more tricky,” he said. “I feel good. I’ve never done Tirreno before so I am looking forward to it. We have Jonas there and he’s riding super strong and I am excited.”