Steph Curry, the 3-point mad bomber of the Golden State Warriors, is nicknamed the Baby-Faced Assassin. After watching young Sepp Kuss on the fearsome Angliru, you’d have to call him the baby-faced assassin on a bike.
He’s a rock star climber and stage 12 of the Vuelta a Espana was yet another demonstration of just how valuable he is to his Jumbo-Visma squad and most particularly his captain Primoz Roglic.
Roglic started to fade ominously with about three kilometers to the summit, his red jersey in jeopardy — and there was Kuss to save the day, dropping his speed to nurse the Slovenian along.
Things got worse as the gradients got worse, going from 18% to 21.5%. Roglic fought for every pedal stroke but inevitably the attacks came and it was up to Kuss to limit the damage.
When Enric Mas (Movistar) launched his attack, it was goodbye Primoz. He dropped to the back of a select group of 10 riders and everything exploded. Richard Carapaz (Ineos-Grenadiers) saw Roglic was on a bay day and promptly bolted up the road, catching Mas, then driving forward.
Meanwhile Kuss was patiently urging Roglic on, dragging him up the Angliru. He never looked tired or stressed, panicked or unsteady. The fresh-faced kid from Durango, Colorado, who just turned 26 in September, proved that from the Tour de France through the Vuelta a Espana, he’s the best climbing domestique in the world. It’s the kind of resume that doubles your salary overnight when a deep pockets squad like Ineos snatch you up.
“I think Sepp could have gone for the win today, but it was shit that he had to stay and help me,” said Roglič after the stage. “I think he could do it today, but he needed to stay with me to support me. Hopefully, in the next days, he will have some opportunity, but we will give it all together to win the overall.”
Roglic could have lost minutes in those final two kilometers — and perhaps his Vuelta victory — but in the end the damage was a mere ten seconds lost to Carapaz. Given the extreme efforts required, the Ecuadorian can’t be overly pleased with the result — especially when he even missed out on the bonus seconds.
Roglic can thank Kuss for killing Carapaz’s big move. Because he’s the Baby Faced Assassin on a Bike. Steph Curry would approve.