Team Jumbo-Visma leader Primoz Roglic will have to do without helpers Sepp Kuss and Edoardo Affini, who are both struggling with illness, for the final two weeks of the Vuelta a España.
Kuss withdrew before Stage 9 on Sunday. Kuss woke up with a fever and had to drop out.
“Losing Sepp is disappointing,” sports director Maarten Wynants said. “He was the last man for Primoz in the high mountains, and Sepp in top shape is of great value. But yesterday, he was already less good; he said he wasn’t fit. Last night, he also got a fever. It’s a shame, but we still have excellent riders to support Primoz.”
“We will miss Edoardo in the next two weeks,” said sports director Addy Engels. “He is someone who can keep Primoz out of the wind for a very long time. Sepp’s abandonment was also very disappointing. But as a team, we must move on and ensure that we are at the front with Primoz at the right times.”
Kuss pulled out of the Tour de Suisse earlier this season after testing positive for COVID.
The end of this week involves a lot of climbing in the south of Spain. Engels anticipates a return to form for Team Jumbo-Visma. “We will continue on the same footing, but as a team, we have to see how we will absorb the loss of Sepp and Edo. Hopefully, Primoz can improve a bit in the coming days and be back to ‘the old Primoz’ by the weekend.”
On Stage 11 Wednesday, Roglic finished 28th with the peloton, so he didn’t lose any time. Roglic then finished 17th on Thursday, 7:39 behind winner, Richard Carapaz of INEOS Grenadiers, but he crossed in the same time as the general classification leader, Remco Evenepoel of Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl. Roglic is in second in the general classification, trailing Evenepoel by 2:41.
Chris Harper, Sam Oomen, Mike Teunissen, Robert Gesink and Rohan Dennis are all still riding in support of Roglic.
The grand tour has 21 stages and will conclude Sept. 11 in Madrid.