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Sepp Kuss to decline Olympics spot

Durango's Sepp Kuss will turn down a potential, and likely, selection to the 2021 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer, as he will focus on Team Jumbo-Visma duties at the Tour de France and Spanish Vuelta. (Courtesy of Team Jumbo-Visma)
Focus to remain on Tour de France, Jumbo-Visma leadership at Vuelta

Durango’s Sepp Kuss might be an Olympian someday. If he is, it will have to wait until at least 2024.

After being named to the long team for Olympic selection by USA Cycling in 2020, Kuss looked like a lock to be selected for the Summer Games in Tokyo. But the 2020 Olympics were postponed until 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the status of the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo remain in question because of the ongoing pandemic and lockdown status in Tokyo, Kuss has removed himself from consideration for one of two spots on the U.S. men’s road cycling team.

He announced his decision Thursday morning in a post to Instagram.

“After much thought and discussions with the US Olympic selection committee, I want to let you know I am declining to be considered for the USA Olympic Road Team for Tokyo,” Kuss wrote. “My goals and priorities for the year are focused on other events.”

Kuss, 26, will ride in his second consecutive Tour de France this summer from June 26 to July 18. He then will get a chance at a leadership role for the Team Jumbo-Visma squad at his fourth career start at the Vuelta a España from Aug. 14 to Sept. 5.

The road cycling portion of the 2021 Olympics is scheduled from July 24-28. Though the road race features a good climbing course that would favor Kuss’ talents, it would have been a tight squeeze for him to go from the grueling three-week Tour de France to the Olympics and then again be ready for the three-week Vuelta.

With the status of the Tokyo Games also still uncertain and the chance athletes could be forced to quarantine upon arrival, the timing was not going to work.

“I will have a busy summer racing the Tour de France and the Vuelta España, so it’s important to take the time in between these races and be ready for my main goals of the season,” Kuss said in his Instagram post. “It’s been really exciting seeing the rise of American cycling over the past few years and I look forward to watching the US team continue that success in Tokyo.”

A potential Olympic appearance in Japan would have been the second such honor for the Kuss family. Kuss’ father, Dolph, was a coach of the U.S. Nordic ski team at the 1972 Olympics in Sapporo, Japan. He also was a cross-country skiing coach at the 1964 Games in Innsbruck, Austria.

Remaining on the Olympic long team for potential selection are Lawson Craddock of Texas, Ian Garrison of Georgia, Alex Howes of Colorado, Brandon McNulty of Arizona, Neilson Powless of California and Tejay van Garderen of Colorado.

Powless appears to be a sure selection after strong stage performances at the 2020 Tour de France.

Durango’s Quinn Simmons, 20, still hopes to gain Olympic selection, too, though he was not named to the long team last year.

It is becoming more likely Durango will be represented at the Olympics by mountain biker Christopher Blevins. His selection would give Durango a men’s mountain biker at the Olympics for a fifth consecutive Olympics.

The full USA Cycling roster for Tokyo will be announced June 10.

jlivingston@durangoherald.com