Ahead of names such as Mark Cavendish, Peter Sagan and American star Taylor Phinney is Durango’s Sepp Kuss.
The 23-year-old professional cyclist from Durango sits in 48th in the general classification standings after three stages at the AMGEN Tour of California, a International Cycling Union (UCI) WorldTour event. In his first year riding with Team LottoNL-Jumbo based out of the Netherlands, Kuss has held his own in his return to California, where he had a breakthrough performance with a 10th-place finish on the Stage 5 climb up Mt. Baldy a year ago.
Still, Kuss is well off the GC chase, as he is 12 minutes, 8 seconds back of race leader Egan Arley Bernal Gomez of Colombia and Team Sky. Poland’s Rafal Majka of Bora-Hansgrohe sits second only 25 seconds off the lead.
Kuss was 59th on Tuesday’s third stage. He finished the 122-mile stage in 4:55:22, which was 2:35 off the winning time of Latvia’s Toms Skujins.
Kuss opened the Tour of California in 65th on the 83.6-mile opening stage Sunday in Long Beach to begin 3:02:23 off the lead time. He then finished 47th on Stage 2 from Ventura to Gibraltar Road at Santa Barbara County but fell to 9:31 off the lead on the 97.6-mile route. Stage 2 was the queen stage with 7,700 feet of climbing.
Stage 4 is one that won’t favor a climber such as Kuss. It is a 21.6-mile time trial loop in and around Morgan Hill and San Jose.
This year, Stage 5 is a 109.7-mile route with only 2,500 feet of climbing around Stockton. Stage 6 will decide this year’s event with 16,000 feet of elevation gain across 123 miles with an uphill finish at Heavenly Mountain Resort in South Lake Tahoe. The race will conclude Sunday with an 88.9-mile stage in Sacramento with essentially no climbing along the route.
Kuss currently sits 23rd in the best young rider standings, 12:08 off the lead held by Bernal Gomez, who also leads the King of the Mountain standings.