The Vuelta a España is just a few days away now and with a a-list looking start sheet set to roll off the ramp in Burgos on Saturday, August 14.
There is a good amount of interest for American fans with seven riders from the States taking part from five different teams - UAE Team Emirates, Team Jumbo-Visma, EF Education-Nippo, Trek-Segafredo and Team DSM.
Sepp Kuss - Team Jumbo-Visma
Sepp Kuss has become one of the finest climbing domestiques in the pro peloton and one of the best climbers out there.
He is a loyal lieutenant to team leader Primož Roglič at Jumbo-Visma, but he has also shown he has the ability to go for the win himself.
This was shown at its best when he won stage 15 of the 2021 Tour de France, out-climbing a breakaway that had Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic) and many more talented climbers in the group. He also helped Jonas Vingegaard to an amazing second place overall.
Throughout the 2021 season the 26-year-old from Durango, Colorado has been unbelievably consistent.
His first race of the season was the UAE Tour where he finished 16th after helping Chris Harper in GC, then onto 12th overall in the Volta a Catalunya. After that it was a 14th place in the Tour de Romandie where he was riding for himself but was unable to pull off the big result.
Then 23rd overall was next in the Critérium du Dauphiné, but two sixth places back-to-back on stages six and seven showed he did have good form. Then the Tour and it was a tough one after losing Roglič so early to a crash, and with Kuss not being on top form to begin with, he rode his way into the race to take a stage and help Vingegaard as well as finish 32nd overall.
Joe Dombrowski - UAE Team Emirates
Joe Dombrowski has had mixed luck over his career, but he did finally manage to pull off his first win outside of the Tour of Utah this season, with a win up the Sestola climb on stage four of the Giro d'Italia.
He took the mountains jersey then as well but, the next day, which was also his 30th birthday, he crashed and finished a long way down behind the rest of the peloton. The same incident saw Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) crash out of the race. Dombrowski abandoned the next day along with Landa.
Since then, Dombrowksi, from Christiana in Delaware, has ridden the Dauphiné getting 27th in the final GC, Settimana Ciclista Italiana where he came 42nd, two Spanish one-day races where he finished outside the top 50 and the Vuelta a Burgos where he came 100th.
Lawson Craddock - EF Education-Nippo
Will Barta was a relatively late transfer to EF Education-Nippo thanks to an amazing time trial performance at the 2020 Vuelta a España where he was only beaten by eventual race winner Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma).
The 25-year-old from Boise, Idaho hasn't exactly set the world alight with his rides since signing for EF Education-Nippo though, with his best ride being a fifth place at the US National Time Trial Championships won by his team-mate, Craddock.
Away from that it was two 45th places back-to-back in the final two stages of the Tour de Wallonie that were his best results. With his contract running out again at the end of the year he will be hoping for another top showing at the Vuelta to keep him in the WorldTour.
Quinn Simmons - Trek-Segafredo
The 20-year-old Quinn Simmons is set to take part in his first Grand Tour after a superb second season with the team where he has shown he could become one of the best riders in the pro peloton.
From Durango, Colorado, Simmons has been steadily building up his performances in the one-day and stage races. He did have a tough spell at the end of his spring Classics campaign however, as he had to abandon to Tour of Flanders and Dwars door Vlaanderen, then not starting Ghent-Wevelgem.
But he has since taken his first win with a stage and the overall title at the recent Tour de Wallonie before putting in a strong ride at the Tour de l'Ain.
Simmons does divide opinion since his suspension by his team due to unacceptable social media posts, but he is a very strong rider who will have a good chance at going for at least one stage victory.
Kiel Reijnen - Trek-Segafredo
It hasn't been the easiest six years at WorldTour level for Kiel Reijnen, as he has not taken a win since his first season with Trek-Segafredo in 2016 at the Tour of Utah, where he also won the points standings.
Since then, the 35-year-old from Bainbridge Island, Washington State, has struggled for wins, especially in Europe. In 2021 his best result was 19th on the opening stage of the UAE Tour. In Europe, his highest placing was 82nd at the Tour de l'Ain.
But the puncher is set for his fourth Vuelta for Trek-Segafredo in a team based around Italian climber Giulio Ciccone.
Chad Haga - Team DSM
The ever dependable support rider, Chad Haga is set to ride his 12th Grand Tour for Team DSM and while he has only taken two wins in his career, one at the Giro d'Italia, he is still worthwhile to have in the team to support the team's leaders.
Haga isn't in the team for his own results, aside from National Championships where he came sixth in the road race and second in the time trial this year, but he is in Spain to look after the main men of the team.
Romain Bardet and Alberto Dainese will be those riders at the Vuelta.
The 32-year-old from McKinney, Texas has only raced twice since the Nationals in Knoxville. Clásica San Sebastián, won by fellow American Neilson Powless (EF-Nippo), was a race Haga did not finish followed by a good ride in the Vuelta a Burgos as he and his team tried to defend Bardet's overall lead.
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