Sepp Kuss will be in the mix with a chance to compete for a podium this weekend at the Tour de Romandie.
The 26-year-old professional cyclist from Durango sits in 11th place after a prologue time trial and two stages of the five-stage race in western Switzerland.
The Team Jumbo-Visma rider is only 16 seconds behind the lead of Rohan Dennis, who won the prologue time trial. Kuss’ 13th-place finish in that prologue has been the surprise of the week thus far, as the world-famous climber showed his drastic improvement in the race against the clock.
“I have surprised myself,” Kuss said in a team news release. “I worked hard on my time trial bike. This gives me confidence for the rest of the week and the time trials to come. I look forward to the upcoming mountain stages where the differences will be made.”
As Kuss looks to gain more chances to compete for general classification victories, improvement in the time trial has been required. It was one of his top goals for the short offseason between 2020 and 2021.
“Sepp rode his best time trial to date here. We have also trained a lot on the TT bike lately, and that is now paying off,” Team Jumbo-Visma director Jans Boven said in the news release.
Kuss finished safely on the Stage 1 sprint won by Peter Sagan in 4 hours, 12 minutes, 40 seconds. Kuss placed 16th in the group finish to maintain position.
Thursday was the first climbing stage of the week, and Kuss was able to safely finish 14th in the same 4:21:42 as stage winner Sonny Colbrelli. Going into the final climb, Kuss would in good position and tried to launch two attacks, but he could not get away from the group.
“At the end of the stage, it was more of an elimination race,” Boven said of Stage 2. “The team executed the plan well. Antwan (Tolhoek) was in the breakaway, and Sepp and Steven (Kruijswijk) didn’t lose any time at the end and are still in a good position GC-wise.”
Kuss is currently 16 seconds behind Dennis of the INEOS Grenadiers team. He is seven seconds off the podium, where INEOS rider Geraint Thomas is third.
Friday’s Stage 3 ride is in Estavayer. The peloton will ride out and tackle a Category 3 climb before returning to ride a circuit with two Category 3 climbs for each of the three laps.
Saturday is the biggest mountain stage with five categorized climbs, including a Category 1 summit finish in Thyon 2000. Sunday is one last time trial of only 10 miles in Friborg.
Kuss will then look ahead to the Critérium du Dauphiné, before his second Tour de France and then his fourth appearance at the Spanish Vuelta, where he will have team leadership duties.