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Sepp Kuss, Jumbo-Visma on verge of historic victory

Kuss takes overall lead into final stage on Sunday
Sepp Kuss of Durango, center, celebrates during Stage 20 of the Vuela a España on Saturday with teammates Jonas Vingegaard, left, and Primoz Roglic. Kuss is one stage away from winning the grand tour. (Courtesy Team Jumbo-Visma)

The penultimate stage of the Vuelta a España went without incident for Team Jumbo-Visma on Saturday. Durangoan Sepp Kuss, Jonas Vingegaard and Primoz Roglic crossed the line side by side in the group of favorites, holding onto to the top-three spots of the general classification in the process.

Kuss leads Vingegaard, this year’s Tour de France winner, by 17 seconds, and Roglic, this year’s Giro d’Italia winner, by 1:03. Juan Ayuso of UAE Team Emirates is closest competitor to the Jumbo-Visma trio, trailing Kuss by 3:44.

Unless something drastic happens, Kuss will be on the top step of the final podium in Madrid on Sunday, flanked by Vingegaard and Roglic.

"We decided to cross the finish line with the three of us,“ Kuss said. ”It was a fantastic moment. We've achieved something unique with the team this season by winning the three grand tours. The last three weeks certainly haven't been easy, but we've granted one another. It is like a fairy tale."

No team has ever won all three grand tours in the same season before. Sunday’s stage is mostly flat and is only 101 kilometers long as it loops around Madrid nine times.

Wilco Kelderman of Jumbo-Visma was part of a large lead group on Saturday, but the 32-year-old Dutchman had to let go on the steep final climb. Wout Poels of Bahrain Victorious took the stage win in Guadarrama, making a clever move with 300 meters to go and then holding off Remco Evenepoel of Soudal - Quick Step at the finish. In the group of favorites, the Jumbo-Visma trio were not attacked.

Kuss won Stage 6 of the Vuelta and took the overall lead after Stage 8 and had been leading the general classification since. Kuss is also seventh in the points race, which Kaden Groves of Alpecin Deceuninck leads, and sixth in the king of the mountain which Evenepoel leads. The GC, however, is the biggest prize of them all.

"It will take a while for everything to sink in,“ Kuss said. "It's an incredible feeling. It was a huge relief to cross the line here. I knew it was possible to finish this, but you have to get through all the stages well. I suffered a lot, but I survived every time. This Tour of Spain has been an unexpected success for me. When I became a cyclist, I did it for the love of the sport. Now, I am close to winning a grand tour. It is still too difficult to express my feelings. I am grateful for this experience."