Kuss: Pogacar has the Tour de France advantage but Roglic never gives up
'It’s not ideal with the crash but not much changes for him' says Jumbo-Visma domestique
Sepp Kuss has backed his battered and bruised Jumbo-Visma leader Primož Roglič ahead of this weekend’s mountain stages in the Tour de France, despite the Slovenian’s recent injuries and time losses.
Roglič crashed hard on stage 3 and, despite not sustaining any fractures, most of his right side was bandaged up the following day. In the stage 5 time trial the Slovenian dug deep to limit his losses but he currently sits 10th overall and 1:40 off last year’s winner and race favourite Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates).
Kuss, who helped Roglič win back-to-back Vuelta a España titles in 2019 and 2020 as well as finish second in last year’s Tour, believes that as long as his leader remains in the race he will fight for the yellow jersey.
"He never gives up," Kuss told Cyclingnews ahead of stage 7.
"He put in a lot of work and he always wants to give his best when he’s in a race. Of course, it’s not ideal with the crash but, other than that, not much changes for him."
With Pogačar currently sitting second overall in the race, the defending champion looks like the rider to beat. He has barely put a foot wrong so far and his blistering stage win in the time trial helped him put considerable daylight between himself and his main rivals. It’s not just Jumbo-Visma who need to make up ground, with Movistar and Ineos Grenadiers all needing to attack in the coming mountains stages if they are to truly fight for the yellow jersey.
With key stages in the Alps coming up this weekend, Kuss admits that the racing could be aggressive from the start, with teams well aware that Pogačar will need isolating from his team if he is to be put under severe pressure. The American was rather cautious over his own team’s stance ahead of the weekend but pointed to Ineos and their possible GC tactics.
"We’ll see. We’ll have to see how Primož is feeling. He’s still our leader but Pogačar has a big advantage so for other teams they’ll want to be aggressive. With Ineos and Richard Carapaz, he’ll for sure want to attack. He has to attack in the mountains but for us we first want to get through the first weekend and see how we’re feeling," Kuss said.
The American is certainly looking forward to a change in pace in the race after a week of sprint stages and nervous action that has left dozens of riders on the deck and nursing wounds.
"We’re going to go from more nervous stages to more demanding stages. For me, that will be nice and I’m looking forward to that," he said.
"Today [stage 7] is not easy. It’s not really big mountains but it’s a really long stage with a hard and unpredictable finale. Tomorrow is the first stage in the mountains and for sure everyone is going to want to do something."
Kuss is well out of the GC frame after conceding time almost every day but he has remained on his bike and, with the Alps and the Pyrenees still to come, believes that his best days in this year’s race are still to come.
"I’ve been able to stay out of trouble, aside from the time that I lost in that stage 1 crash. So I can be happy. For me it’s better to save a bit of energy and stay on my bike before we get to the mountains," he said.
"I already feel really good and if I compare that to last year I didn’t feel that good in the first and second weeks. That’s already a good sign and I feel like I have room to improve."
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Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at Cyclingnews.com between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
By Josh Croxton