At Vuelta a Espana, Sepp Kuss is first American man to lead a Grand Tour in a decade
Sepp Kuss, a 28-year-old from Durango, Colorado, rode into the maillot rojo at the Vuelta a España on Saturday, becoming the first American man to lead one of cycling’s three Grand Tours in a decade.
Kuss began the eighth of 21 stages in second place, eight seconds behind Frenchman Lenny Martinez.
He finished seventh in the eighth stage to overtake Martinez, who was 13th on Saturday, for the general classification lead. Kuss has a 43-second edge on Spain’s Marc Soler.
The last American man to lead a Grand Tour — the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France or Vuelta — was Chris Horner, when he became at age 41 the oldest Grand Tour champion in history at the 2013 Vuelta.
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The gap between Horner and Kuss marks the longest span between Americans to wear a Grand Tour leader’s jersey since Greg LeMond became the first American to win a Grand Tour at the 1986 Tour de France (if one includes riders who later had their results stripped for doping).
Kuss has for years been a key domestique for Jumbo-Visma team leaders Jonas Vingegaard of Denmark (two-time Tour de France winner) and Primož Roglič of Slovenia (three-time Vuelta winner).
Vingegaard and Roglič are both in the Vuelta field. Roglič, who won Saturday’s stage, and Vingegaard are in seventh and eighth place overall, 2:38 and 2:42 behind Kuss.
A medium mountain stage Sunday is followed by a rest day Monday and a 16-mile time trial Tuesday.
The time trial may be an opportunity for last year’s Vuelta winner and current world time trial champion, Belgian Remco Evenepoel, to make up a 2-minute, 31-second deficit to Kuss.
“Not so big [of a lead on Evenepoel] when there’s a TT coming, but I’ll do my best,” Kuss said. “I feel really good so far, and there’s no reason to just let it [the lead] go easy. We’re in a really good position now with the team, but the hardest stages are still to come.”