Who besides Jumbo Visma now has a shot at winning the Vuelta a Espana?
Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quickstep) lost all hope in a shocking jour sans on the Cold d’Aubisque, losing about 30 minutes to the stage winner Jonas Vingegaard.
João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) also lost several minutes, falling all the way to 10th on GC, 8:39 behind.
Lenny Martinez (Groupama FDJ) suffered early and late, dropping from a top five spot down to 14th.
Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) dropped, Marc Soler (UAE Emirates) wiped out, Juan Ayusa (UAE Emirates) on the limit, Enric Mas (Movistar) valiant but isolated and overmatched by the crushing pace set by Jumbo’s Wilco Kelderman and Robert Gesink.
Rivals gone, dispatched, physically and emotionally destroyed.
Vingegaard wins solo on Tourmalet with Kuss 30 seconds behind and Primoz Roglic just a few seconds further back. The Vuelta GC brought to you exclusively by Jumbo Visma — Kuss in red, Roglic second at 1:37 and Vingegaard third at 1:44. Everyone except Ayuso is at least three minutes behind them.
Even in the heyday of Team Sky or US Postal, when have we ever seen a squad brutalize and dominate a stage race like this? The three strongest men in the race all wear the same jersey.
Yes, it was a good day for Jumbo, to understate a colossal beat-down of everyone else in the Vuelta. Just past the finish-line, Kuss put his arm around Vingegaard, saying “beautiful, beautiful.” Shortly after, Vingegaard was asked if the day went according to plan — answer, “It went better than the plan.”
Sepp “Champagne” Kuss looks more and more assured, confident and relaxed with each passing day. “The team did and amazing job. Gesink did an amazing job. Wilco on the front forever on the Tourmalet,” said Kuss. “We’re just happy with how we were able to play our numbers today.”
Yes, and the numbers are pretty damn clear: Kuss, Roglic or Vingegaard will win the 2023 Vuelta a Espana. The Spanish grand tour is now an exclusive private event with just three invitations.
Is three-time Vuelta winner Roglic willing to support his loyal and indispensable domestique in taking his first grand tour victory? Is two-time Tour de France champion Vingegaard happy to take second or third place on the podium to thank Kuss for all his self-less hard work?
Jumbo-Visma management wants to keep ambitious star riders Roglic and Vingegaard happy. But the best story for the team besides winning all three grand tours in a single season, is winning them with three different riders.
#GCSeppKuss rolls on!