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Rosskopf kick-starts season with King of the Mountains Jersey

Rosskopf took the climber's jersey at Tour Down Under Wednesday, and may get to keep it a little longer yet.

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ADELAIDE, Australia (VN) — Joey Rosskopf (CCC Team) hit the podium Wednesday to open the 2020 racing season in a flourish.

Rosskopf was on the march for the second day in a row at Santos Tour Down Under, and snagged the King of the Mountains jersey for his efforts.

“I got my jersey today,” Rosskopf said. “I earned it the hard way. I’m satisfied as it was nice to get something out of the breakaway.”

It could be for good. Depending on how the climbing stages at Paracombe and Old Willunga Hill stages play out, Rosskopf might be getting used to some podium time for the rest of the week in Australia.

“If I could win both times today then I knew I would have a chance of keeping the jersey for a while depending on how the next climbs play out,” he said.

It’s just rewards for Rosskopf, 30, who starts his sixth season in the WorldTour.

Rosskopf started the day equal on KOM points with Jarrad Drizners (UniSA-Australia), who was also in the opening-stage break Tuesday. With a hilly stage on tap for the TDU’s second stage, Rosskopf didn’t bat an eye, and attacked from the gun in the 135km stage.

On Wednesday, Rosskopf snagged the necessary points to slip into the category lead and earn a trip to the podium.

The breakaway efforts kick-start Rosskopf’s season after a successful 2019 that saw him make his Tour de France debut.

“We were open for anyone to go for the jersey,” he said. “We were all free to try. Losing Paddy Bevin before the race started was a big blow but it gives everyone a bit more of a free role. One of the big goals is still to support Simon Geschke for the overall.”

The Georgia native has been a staple of BMC Racing since 2015, and stepped up in 2019 as the team morphed in to CCC Team.

A strong time trialist, Rosskopf rode to 10th in the 27.5km time trial in Pau at the Tour, at just 1:01 behind stage-winner Julian Alaphilippe. That result confirmed his credentials against the clock.

A two-time national time trial champion, Rosskopf is holding out hope of earning just one of two spots for the U.S. team at the Tokyo Olympics. Both of the riders selected will be eligible for the time trial, so it’s going to be a big fight for Rosskopf to earn an Olympic berth with riders like Lawson Craddock, Chad Haga, and Nielson Powless also vying for selection.

“I’d love to get myself in the mix for the selection,” he said. “It’s kind of a long shot, but if I could do a couple of good TT’s in the first half of the year that might get me considered for a spot.”

That’s all further down the road. Tomorrow, Rosskopf will be back on the saddle working for the team. And if things go well, back on the podium as the King of the Mountains.