Durango native cyclist Sepp Kuss climbs to victory at the 2023 Vuelta a España

Colorado cyclist Sepp Kuss climbs to victory at the 2023 Vuelta a España

The Spanish bicycle race is one of three grand tours, alongside the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia

Colorado cyclist Sepp Kuss has gone from climbing hills in Durango to ascending to the top of his sport.

Earlier this week, Kuss cemented himself into cycling lore by winning the 2023 Vuelta a España. The Spanish bicycle race is one of three grand tours in the sport, alongside the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia.

In winning this year’s event, Kuss became the second American to win the Vuelta a España and first since Chris Horner did it back in 2013.

“It’s pretty unique having the U.S. national anthem playing here in Madrid for a bike race in Spain,” Kuss said after the race. “That gave me a lot of pride. It’s three weeks of hard work, concentration and just focusing on one day at a time. It’s a culmination of work rather than just one stage victory. It’s been incredible to experience.”

Kuss rides for Team Jumbo–Visma alongside teammates Primož Roglič, who won the 2023 Giro d’Italia and Jonas Vingegaard, who won the 2023 Tour de France. Kuss’ win cemented Jumbo-Visma as the first men’s team in history to win all three grand tours in a single season.

Individually, Kuss has developed a reputation as a strong climber in the sport, having won King of the Mountain jerseys in previous incarnations of the Vuelta. The 29-year-old started out in mountain bike racing as a junior and as a student at CU Boulder, where he won three national titles at the Collegiate championships in cross country cycling (2014 and 2015) and Short Track (2014).

“Beyond what I think it’ll do for cycling in the U.S., and I feel like it does need that boost, but just on a personal level, I remember he beat me when he was just a kid—a mountain biker,” fellow professional rider Lachlan Morton said in a recent podcast. “We were at Redlands, in a hilltop finish, and he sprinted around me. I had just come back from WorldTour, I was on Jelly Belly. And I was like, who is this kid? He was just this kid having fun riding his bike, you know? And it seems like that hasn’t changed all the way through.”

As has become all too synonymous with the sport, Kuss’ win didn’t come without its share of drama or controversy. Earlier this month, former professional cyclist turned team manager Jérôme Pineau accused Kuss of “motor doping” or using mechanical means to obtain an edge on the competition. There had also been reports of interpersonal conflict within the team.

Before the final stage of the race last Sunday, Kuss addressed the media, saying “I think for me personally, cheating or doping is just out of the question because it’s not even sports for me then.”

“Part of sports is losing, and of course you want to win but if you’re doing something that’s prohibited or cheating then you’re afraid of losing, which I think is one of the most important things about sports: accepting that sometimes you’re not good enough. That’s just how it is.”

But this week, he’ll only be known as a winner.

Post courtesy of the DenverGazette.com

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