As the peloton crossed the finish of the final stage of the Colorado Classic, young climbing phenom Sepp Kuss confirmed his potential as one of the top general classification riders in North America. Aided by his dedicated Rally Cycling team, Kuss finished the inaugural event in sixth place overall after four grueling days in the high Rockies.
“This result means a lot to me,” said Kuss “It’s the first time I have done a race of this caliber as team leader for the general classification. Every stage has been fast and pretty dynamic, so to put together a strong result after four hard days of racing is special."
The result in Colorado is no outlier – Kuss has been growing into his role as a general classification contender for Rally Cycling throughout the 2016 season, his breakout year in the professional peloton.
"This entire season has been fantastic, a lot work, but it has never felt like a sacrifice. I am getting to do what makes me happy. I love riding and racing my bike, and to do it this week in front of friends and family was fun. This race has given me a lot of confidence heading into the second half of the season, but first I am going to spend some time on the mountain bike, relaxing and not worrying about power numbers or heart rate.”
Kuss prepares to defend his high overall placing prior to stage three of the Colorado Classic
Kuss laid the foundation for his high overall placing with a spectacular ride the race’s second stage in the resort town of Breckenridge. After eight laps of the demanding 10.5-kilometer circuit, Kuss was fighting for the stage victory when, with a kilometer to go, his rear wheel slid out through a right-hand corner, sending him across the tarmac. With road rash up and down his right side, Kuss remounted and finished the race, with a flat rear tire. Thanks to one of cycling's lesser known rules, given he fell within the final three kilometers of the stage, Kuss was granted the same time as the riders he was with at the time of the incident, and moved into fourth overall.
The third stage saw Kuss slip to sixth after a two man breakaway held off the remnants of a disintegrated peloton, following another epic day of racing, and rewrote the top of the leader board. In the race’s final stage, a flat circuit race through the streets of Denver, the team protected Kuss while trying to set up Colin Joyce and Shane Kline for the day’s victory. Kuss and the rest of the team drove the pace in the final kilometers but with two corners to go lost position near the front and missed the podium. Kuss crossed the line safely in the pack to retain sixth overall to signal he is ready to challenge in the world’s biggest races.
The Rise of Kuss
Kuss’s rise through the peloton has been swift – he joined Rally Cycling midway through the 2016 season, his first year racing on the road full-time after coming from a mountain bike background. His first big win in the colors of Rally Cycling came just a few weeks after joining the team – he stormed up the slopes of Mont Megantic in Quebec to win stage two of the Tour de Beauce, an iconic stage contested by some of the best climbers in the world.
Kuss began 2017 with a strong European campaign, and followed it up with a stellar performance in stage five of the Amgen Tour of California. On the notorious ascent up Mount Baldy, Kuss stayed with the top climbers in the world, crossing the line in tenth. After California, Kuss returned to his hometown of Durango, Colorado, winning the legendary Iron Horse Bicycle Classic. Earlier this month, at the Tour of Utah, he finishing second in stage two and took his first leader’s jersey in a stage race. After relinquishing the jersey to Rob Britton, he dedicated the rest of his week to assuring overall victory for his teammate.
“We knew Sepp’s potential when we brought him into the program,” said Performance Manager Jonas Carney. "Having ridden for the Gateway Harley Davidson development program, we knew Sepp would be prepared for the professional ranks. This season he has taken it up a level and shown himself to be one of our core guys. He is capable of winning the toughest races in North America, but never hesitates to work for others. His work ethic and attitude fits in well with our program. He was great in Utah, and to come here and finish in the top ten shows his talent and dedication.”
Kuss will continue his season at the Tour of Alberta before heading back to Europe for a series of late season races.
Brad Huff Wins Velorama Criterium
As big-time stage racing returned to Colorado following the demise of the former USA Pro Challenge in 2015, the Velorama festival emerged this year to host not only a UCI 2.HC rated stage race and music festival, but several criteriums in Denver’s RiNo district.
The women of Rally Cycling transitioned from the hard climbing circuits in Colorado Springs and Breckenridge to a high speed criterium Friday evening in Denver. National Criterium Champion Erica Allar landed in eighth place, and then delivered a podium result with second on Saturday night. The men followed on Saturday night with Eric Young escorting Huff to the line for the victory. In addition to Sara Poidevin’s dominant stage, overall and classification wins in the Colorado Classic, Rally Cycling enjoyed six victories over four days in the Centennial State.
Colorado Classic Final General Classification
1. Manuel Senni (BMC)
2. Serghei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis)
3. Alex Howes (Cannondale-Drapac)
4. TJ Eisenhart (Holowesko-Citadel)
5. Peter Stetina (Trek-Segafredo)
6. Sepp Kuss (Rally Cycling)
7. Brent Bookwalter (BMC)
8. Miguel Benito (Caja Rural)
9. Vegard Stake Laengen (UAE Team Emirates
10. Travis McCabe (UnitedHealthcare)
Velorama Criterium Results
Friday Night | Women
1. Lauren Hall (UnitedHealthcare)
2. Lauretta Hanson (UnitedHealthcare)
3. Mandy Heinz (Visit Dallas DNA)
4. Skylar Schneider (ISCorp p/b Progress)
5.Samantha Schneider(ISCorp p/b Progress)
6. Ruth Winder (UnitedHealthcare)
7. Erica Clevenger (Visit Dallas DNA)
8. Erica Allar (Rally Cycling)
9. Jess Mundy (COLAVITA/BIANCHI)
10. Jennifer Valente (Sho-Air TWENTY20)
Saturday Night | Women
1. Lauren Hall (UnitedHealthcare)
2. Erica Allar (Rally Cycling)
3. Jennifer Valente (Sho-Air TWENTY20)
4. Lauretta Hanson (UnitedHealthcare)
5. Skylar Schneider (ISCorp p/b Progress)
6. Chloe Dygert (Sho-Air TWENTY20)
7. Josie Talbotis (Corp p/b Progress)
8. Erika Varela Conade (Visit Mexico)
9. Megan Jastrab (Amy D Foundation)
10. Samantha Schneider(ISCorp p/b Progress)
Saturday Night | Men
1. Brad Huff (Rally Cycling)
2. Tony Baca (ELBOWZ Racing)
3. Jesse Goodrich (Team Cycleton
4. Kevin Mullervy (Team Clif Bar
5. Cormac McGeough
6. Eric Young (Rally Cycling)
7. Jason Christie (Sapura)
8. Conor Mullervy (Team CLIF Bar)
9. George Simpson (Gateway Harley-Davidson)
10. Jake Silverberg