Sepp Kuss soars to 808 Strava KOMs in 2023 — more than any other pro

The unexpected Vuelta a España winner is a true King of the Mountains

Sepp Kuss, climber extraordinaire
(Image credit: Getty Images)

American cycling hero Sepp Kuss proved once again this season that he is one of the absolute best climbers in the world. He’s long been praised for being able to go where no other domestique can follow, and a true kingmaker of a domestique, he has helped his Jumbo-Visma team leaders Primož Roglič and Jonas Vingegaard secure wins in all three Grand Tours.

But this past week, the 29-year-old “Eagle of Durango” reached new heights when he became the unexpected yet deserving winner of the Vuelta a España, making him the first American Grand Tour winner in a decade and a rare domestique to have claimed such honors. 

In doing so, he proved his status as a top climber and that if he’d been on any other team, he would have been leadman all along. Despite his team duties and the fact that he’s ridden several three-week tours each season, Kuss has finished well inside the top 20 of seven Grand Tours in the past four years. 

And while his procurement of the maillot rojo may have been unplanned, it certainly didn’t come for free. Nothing was gifted to the smiling American, who’s been putting in the work in and out of racing. One only has to take a glance at his Strava record. 

The activity-sharing platform today announced that Kuss has claimed more virtual King of the Mountain trophies than any other professional athlete in 2023.

“2023 has been a big year for American pro cyclist Sepp Kuss,” Strava shared. “No, we’re not talking about how he just won the Vuelta a España, or helped Jumbo-Visma sweep the other men’s Grand Tours. We’re talking about the 808 KOMs he claimed this year.”

All across Spain, France and Italy, Kuss has been flying up mountains to claim crown after crown. In the first nine months of 2023, Kuss has already recorded 256 activities, totaling some 29,007 kilometers (18,024.6 miles) and 547,019 meters (1,794,682 ft) of elevation — that’s nearly 62 Everestings in 37 weeks.

In the comments of Strava’s social media announcement, retired climbing specialist Phil Gaimon, himself an avid Strava KOM hunter, jokingly called his compatriot an “amateur” while thousands of fans applauded Kuss’ achievements, expressed to be like him one day or offered condolences to all those who received the dreaded “Uh Oh! Sepp Kuss just stole your KOM!” emails. 

Kudos Sepp!

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Anne-Marije Rook
North American Editor

Cycling Weekly's North American Editor, Anne-Marije Rook is old school. She holds a degree in journalism and started out as a newspaper reporter — in print! She can even be seen bringing a pen and notepad to the press conference.

Originally from The Netherlands, she grew up a bike commuter and didn't find bike racing until her early twenties when living in Seattle, Washington. Strengthened by the many miles spent darting around Seattle's hilly streets on a steel single speed, Rook's progression in the sport was a quick one. As she competed at the elite level, her journalism career followed, and soon she became a full-time cycling journalist. She's now been a cycling journalist for 11 years.