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American cyclist kicks ass helping a six panel door with the Tour de France.

I'm a huge fan of Sepp. He's the first American to impact the tour since the Lance era.

However, his existance this year was basically to support a cyclist with the personality of a Carp. Did you know he was plucked from obscurity from the fish market? Yup, he was formerly a fish market worker, where he developed his fish-like charisma.

When I think of great athletes like Muhammed Ali, and Micheal Jordan I wonder if Vingegaard has anything going on upstairs. Hmmm.

One, thing's for sure, he's putting out power numbers greater than Lance at his peak. Over 7 watts/kg for 20 minutes. Lance peaked at 6.8. Is Jonas clean? Sure....haha.

The Tour de France’s Yellow Jersey Had an American Assist

As Jonas Vingegaard becomes a Tour champion for the second time, Colorado’s Sepp Kuss has proven himself as an essential lieutenant for the strongest team in cycling

Jonas Vingegaard, left, and Jumbo-Visma teammate Sepp Kuss during Stage 14 of the Tour de France on July 15.

By Joshua Robinson, WSJ

July 23, 2023 6:00 am ET

LE MARKSTEIN, France—Sepp Kuss rolled slowly across the finish line, nearly 21 minutes after the leaders, bruised and bleeding profusely from cut above his eye and on his cheek. He had crashed hard on a downhill early during Saturday’s 20th stage of the Tour de France and now, he really needed two things.

Most urgently, the 28-year-old from Durango, Colo. said he required some stitches. And once he was sewn back up, Kuss desperately needed a beer to celebrate one of the greatest cycling seasons he could ever hope for.

On Sunday afternoon, Kuss is set to ride onto the Champs-Elysées alongside his team Jumbo-Visma leader, Jonas Vingegaard of Denmark, as Vingegaard wins his second consecutive Tour de France. That triumph comes just two months after Kuss helped Slovenia’s Primoz Roglic win the Giro d’Italia. Together, those make up two of the hardest races in professional cycling. And each time, Kuss knows that he played an essential role by executing one of the most thankless tasks in sports—pacing his teammate up climb after climb only to get out of the way for them to collect the glory.

“He’s one of the best mountain domestiques in the world,” Jumbo-Visma sports director Grischa Niermann said.

Kuss is one of only a handful of U.S. riders in the pro peloton and remains the only American stage winner at the Tour of the past decade. He has made a sparkling career out of riding fast when the road is steepest, all in the service of his team leader. He sets a high tempo, shields his teammate from drag, and generally rides himself into the ground through the most grueling stretches of a three-week stage race.

At this summer’s Tour, Kuss’s job was even more crucial. The 2023 route featured more climbing than any edition in recent memory and Kuss was almost always Vingegaard’s last surviving teammate for the high-mountain duels against Tadej Pogacar.

“It’s been a hard Tour and there haven’t been so many days when you can recover,” said Kuss, whose crash dropped out of the top 10 in the overall standings to 12th. “But when you have the yellow jersey in the team, it makes it a lot easier.”

Sepp Kuss is one of only a handful of U.S. riders in the pro peloton. PHOTO: ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

Vingegaard could say the same about having Kuss in the team. Although Kuss would theoretically be strong enough to be a leader for any other outfit, Jumbo’s directors don’t believe that he particularly wants to. Life as a mountain specialist seems to suit him. And it’s undeniable that a rider with the pure climbing skills of Kuss suits Jumbo-Visma’s plans. He has been a part of all six of the team’s victories in Grand Tours since 2019. That includes three successes in the Vuelta a Espana, one in the Giro d’Italia, and now two in the Tour de France. Throughout those races, Kuss has become an expert at gauging his effort so that he can be at his most effective when he needs to shepherd his leader through a mountain range.

“It’s about putting energy and also backing off in the right moments,” sports director Merijn Zeeman says.

At this Tour, Jumbo couldn’t have timed its assaults any better. For the first two weeks, Kuss helped Vingegaard bide his time in the battle against Pogacar, knowing that their opportunities to make a difference truly lay in the third week of the race. Vingegaard struck a huge blow in Tuesday’s time trial, stretching his over lead from 10 seconds to 1 minute 48 seconds. And then, he exploded the race with Kuss’s help during Wednesday’s stage up the Col de la Loze in the Alps while Pogacar cracked. As they went into Sunday’s largely ceremonial Stage 21 into Paris, Vingegaard’s overall lead was 7:29, which would be the second highest winning margin this century.

Of course, Jumbo’s dominance at this Tour—and more generally this season—has invited the usual questions about performance enhancing drugs that plagued cycling in the 1990s and 2000s. Vingegaard hasn’t shied away from answering them.

“I understand the questions and I welcome them,” he said once it became clear he was heading for victory. “I’m not taking anything personally and I’m happy there’s skepticism…Yes we are going fast and beating records so it’s a good thing that fans ask questions about that. On the other hand there are reasons, the food, the material and the training is all improving all the time.”

Sepp Kuss, left, plays an essential role on Tour leader Jonas Vingegaard’s Jumbo-Visma team. PHOTO: BENOIT TESSIER/REUTERS

Jumbo is also one of the biggest spenders on the sport. Beyond any advantages it has developed in the technical and preparation departments, it can also sign enough talent to surround its team leaders with elite helpers, such as Kuss, Belgium’s Tiesj Benoot, or the all-round star Wout van Aert. All of them are capable of winning stages and races in their own right. But at Jumbo, they are compensated well enough to shelve their own ambitions for a few weeks in France every summer and give Vingegaard a shot at winning the Tour—even if it means occasionally flipping over the handlebars like Kuss.

“We had a plan every day and we executed the plan every day,” Vingegaard said on Saturday, already certain that he would wear the yellow jersey to the finish in Paris. “They’ve done so well and it’s really nice that I can finish it off.”

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