Already referred to as the best climbing domestique in the peloton, American Sepp Kuss says that he is ready to take up leadership roles during the 2021 season.
An invaluable help to Primož Roglič during the 2020 campaign as the Slovenian won the Vuelta a España and almost the Tour de France, many onlookers wondered when Kuss would get his own chance to ride for GC.
Having recently just signed a contract extension with Jumbo-Visma that will keep the former cross-country skier and mountain biker riding for the Dutch outfit through until the end of 2024, Kuss could lead his team at the Vuelta.
"I will have my chances a little bit during this year," the 26-year-old told Cycling Weekly.
"One-week races, maybe the Vuelta although we'll see about that later.
"I like the Vuelta, it's a nice atmosphere and it's a lot of fun. It's probably the Vuelta that suits me more [of the three Grand Tours], but the routes change so much every year that you have to gamble a bit on which ones suit you best."
Is he ready to take the title of leader? "Yeah, yeah. Yes," he assuredly said.
"It's not a new pressure or anything, I just do my training and if I am good on the day of a race then it's no stress.
"Some days I'm not the best climber, some days I am one of the worst climbers, but I always get better every year so that's nice.
"I have a lot of trust in the team and they help me along the way."
Kuss is part of a strong Jumbo-Visma team currently riding the Volta a Catalunya, and after stage two's time trial he sits 50 seconds adrift of his team-mate Steven Kruijswijk, who is fourth on GC.
Bettering his performance against the clock remains a key area of improvement for him. "It takes time," he said, "but I still have a lot of room to improve so it's motivating to work on it."
With stage three and fourth finishing at ski resorts, Kuss could find himself in overall contention in the Volta, a race that he says "I know almost all of the roads".
"Every race you have the opportunity if you are riding well," he added.
"We definitely have some guys on the team who we all go for as individuals but you never know what can happen."
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