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Is Sepp Kuss on the bubble for selection for the 2022 Tour de France?
That’s what Dutch media is reporting Wednesday, with lead Jumbo-Visma sports director Merijn Zeeman saying that only three riders — Primož Roglič, Wout van Aert and Jonas Vingegaard — have their spots assured for Jumbo-Visma’s Tour selection.
According to an interview in Algemeen Dagblad, Zeeman said Kuss, a winner of a Tour stage in 2021, still has to earn his spot on Jumbo-Visma’s “Tour Eight.”
Others on the bubble include Steven Kruijswijk, Rohan Dennis, Mike Teunissen, Robert Gesink, Tiesj Benoot, Nathan van Hooydonck, and Christophe Laporte.
Only five of them will earn selection to start the 2022 Tour in Copenhagen on July 1.
“All these riders are ready for the Tour, but unfortunately we have to disappoint some of them,” Zeeman told AD. “That is hard, but also top sport. At the same time, it is also a logical consequence of the development within the team. The level is extremely high.”
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Much like Ineos Grenadiers, Jumbo-Visma has a wealth of talent across its roster, so selecting eight starters is both a luxury and a challenge.
That’s compounded by having two GC favorites plus superstar all-rounder Van Aert taking three of the spots.
Kuss, along with Kruijswijk and Dennis, were reportedly told in January that they were also assured of starting spots on the Tour, AD reported.
That’s changed as the Tour approaches, and different riders are hitting their respective peaks with the Tour just one month away.
“Nothing changes in their preparation. The chance for those eight riders is still high that they will go,” he said. “It was also explained to them that we want to have the widest possible group that is ready to perform. A place in the Tour is very expensive.”
The pressure is growing on Jumbo-Visma to deliver the best team to protect designated captains Roglič and Vingegaard. The team has finished runner-up in the past two editions of the Tour, and wants to win the yellow jersey in July.
To do that, they not only have to get past Tadej Pogačar, but also have a team to protect their GC captains across a very heavy opening week of the 2022 Tour and then later in the mountains.
Zeeman said the team is trying to cover its bets for all scenarios, plus factor in last-minute illness, crashes, and COVID-19, which is still rampaging across the peloton.
“We have looked at the course in great detail in recent months and have to arrive at the best composition,” Zeeman said. “We also want a broad group to be ready to start in the most important race of the year. We are also still dealing with coronavirus. Boys can drop out at the last minute, also because of falls and injuries. We have to be ready for that.”
Kuss has started the past two editions of the Tour, and won a stage in 2021 in Andorra on stage 15. He also raced to eighth overall in the Vuelta a España for his career-first top-10 in a grand tour.
Kuss is slated to race the Tour de Suisse this month, and the Tour selection will happen in the coming weeks based on the final look at numbers, performances, and health.