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Sepp Kuss slightly extends lead on Stage 18 of Vuelta

Three stages remain in final grand tour of the year
Sepp Kuss of Durango competes in Stage 18 of the Vuelta a España on Thursday. Kuss managed to extend his overall lead to 19 seconds on the stage. (Courtesy Team Jumbo-Visma)

Team Jumbo-Visma focused on preserving its general classification lead during Stage 18 of the Vuelta a España on Thursday. In the end, Sepp Kuss of Durango managed to slightly extend his overall lead.

Remco Evenepoel of Soudal Quick Step was the strongest rider in a 14-man breakaway and won the stage, but Jumbo-Visma riders controlled the race in the background.

Kuss eventually finished 10th on the stage, extending his overall lead to 19 seconds over teammate Jonas Vingegaard in the process. Primoz Roglic finished on Kuss’ wheel in 11th place to hold to third in the GC (+1:08).

“It's an honor to have two such champions working for you,” Kuss said. “They have both won some big races in the recent past. So this is a great honor. It's probably the best part of being a professional cyclist. You feel the passion and the emotion when people cheer you on from the sidelines. It touches me every time.”

“It was not an easy stage,” Kuss continued. “The last climb was quite challenging. I'm glad that I was strong enough to stay at the front. I always try to stay focused, have confidence in myself and ride to the finish as fast as possible. I'm grateful for the work that Jonas and Primoz did for me today. It means a lot to me. Although it might be difficult to see from the outside, we have a clear plan.”

“That plan was to defend Sepp's leading position,” Vingegaard said. “As a team, we have done that with flying colors. We are in an excellent position, but we are not there yet. Saturday's stage is treacherous. It's fantastic to be able to do something for Sepp in this way. I will always remember what he has done for me. So, I wanted to give something back. Hopefully, we can bring his red jersey to the finish line.”

The Vuelta has three stages remaining and will conclude on Sunday.