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Kuss crosses third at Faun-Ardèche in France

Simmons scores 16th-place finish at Drôme Classic
Sepp Kuss of Durango competes in the Faun-Ardèche Classic Saturday in France. The Team-Jumbo rider reached the podium with a third-place finish. (Courtesy Team Jumbo-Visma)

The road cycling season began this weekend in Southern France for Durangoans Sepp Kuss and Quinn Simmons.

Kuss and Simmons both competed Saturday at the Faun-Ardèche Classic. Kuss reached the podium with a third-place finish, and Simmons finished 64th.

Almost immediately after the start in Guilherand-Granges, three riders escaped from the peloton. Because of Team Jumbo-Visma's high pace, the gap never got big. On the Wall of Carnas, about 30 kilometers from the finish, a battle between the big names ensued.

Primoz Roglic attacked twice, then it was Kuss’ turn. Together with American Brandon McNulty, Mauri Vansevenant and Clément Champoussin, Kuss grabbed a lead.

McNulty then bolted away and steadily built his lead. Although Kuss made an all-or-nothing attempt to close the gap on the final climb, McNulty held on to win the 168.6K race in 4 hours, 26 minutes and 36 seconds. Kuss lost to Vansevenant in the sprint for second place, finishing 45 seconds after McNulty.

“I felt perfect today and was looking forward to race again,” Kuss said in Team Jumbo-Visma’s race report. “I tried to follow McNulty a few times, but he was just powerful today. Also, between the penultimate and final climb, I had to make a big effort bridging the gap to the chasers and that cost me just too much energy. Still, I'm pleased with what I showed on this tough course.”

On Saturday, Kuss and Simmons both competed in the Drôme Classic.

After a fast start, six riders tried their luck in the hilly surroundings and got a maximum lead of five minutes. The peloton increased the pace toward the longer climbs in the race’s second half. After an attack by Team Jumbo-Visma’s Jonas Vingegaard, seven riders separated from the peloton. In this large group there was little cooperation, and attacks of Roglic, Sam Oomen and Kuss were countered. On the Côte de Roberts, Vingegaard and Ayuso shook off all other escapees and rode to the finish in Étoile-sur-Rhône. Vingegaard proved to be stronger on the last climb and arrived solo after 191 kilometers in 4:37.05.

Simmons was the first cyclist from Trek-Segafredo to finish, crossing 16th, 42 seconds after Vingegaard. Kuss finished 34th, 1:14 back.

They were the top two Americans in the race.

Both cyclists will race this weekend in the Strade Bianche, a one-day race Saturday in Italy. Kuss also is scheduled to race Monday in Italy’s Tirreno-Adriatico.