American rider Sepp Kuss on Sunday claimed his first Grand Tour victory at the Vuelta a Espana in Madrid, which he described as “life-changing,” as his Jumbo-Visma team completed an unprecedented treble.
The Dutch team became the first to win all three Grand Tours in a single year, after Jonas Vingegaard won his second consecutive Tour de France and Primoz Roglic triumphed at the Giro d’Italia.
While Jumbo-Visma coleaders Vingegaard and Roglic are accustomed to being the superstars, this week they supported their usually loyal domestique Kuss to his maiden Grand Tour success.
Kuss, 29, crossed the line smiling wide, his position as general classification leader not under threat on stage 21’s flat 101.5km procession to Madrid.
“It’s incredible. I think today was the stage that I suffered in the most of the whole race, now I’m just glad it’s over,” Kuss said. “I’ll still be me — it’s life-changing for sure, but I think I’ll just look back on this experience with a lot of fond memories. It’s still sinking in and it’s going to take quite some time. [Tonight we’ll have] a big celebration, family and friends are here, and that is going to be really special.”
Danish rider Vingegaard finished second, 17 seconds behind Kuss, who finished the grueling 21 stage race in 76 hours, 48 minutes and 21 seconds.
Roglic came in third, just over a minute behind Kuss, with Spaniard Juan Ayuso of UAE Team Emirates beating his compatriots Mikel Landa and Enric Mas to fourth place.
“This year, I came with bigger ambitions, but it wasn’t possible against a very strong team,” said Ayuso, 21, who finished third in last year’s Vuelta.
Ayuso also claimed the white jersey for best young rider, while Australian Kaden Groves finished with the green jersey for the most points, also winning the final stage after a remarkable bunch sprint.
Groves claimed the intermediate sprint to tighten his grip on the points victory, sticking with Remco Evenepoel, Rui Costa, Nico Denz, Filippo Ganna and Lennard Kamna in the day’s break.
The chasing peloton reeled them in to 12 seconds with 6km to go in a dramatic finale to both the stage and the Grand Tour as a whole.
Groves surged ahead of Evenepoel, who had moved early, to cross the line first, pursued by Ganna, second, and Denz, third.
“We all looked at each other and that meant the peloton could come back together, but I knew that in the sprint I could find a little extra,” Groves said.
Reigning champion Evenepoel’s defense crumbled in the Pyrenees, but he bounced back to claim the King of the Mountains jersey.
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