DURANGO, Colo. — Colorado cycling fans are still buzzing about the 107th Tour de France.
Durango’s Sepp Kuss was part of a team that came within a whisker of winning. He may be the sport's next big thing.
"Sepp Kuss of the USA, what a ride today," exclaimed Phil Liggett, NBC Sports commentator, during a live broadcast of Stage 17 of the 2020 Tour de France.
Twenty-six-year-old Sepp Kuss was the talk of Tour de France.
"I always, of course, watched the Tour," said Kuss, who grew up in Durango. "I never expected I would be on the other side of the screen. So, that’s pretty surreal."
Kuss is still trying to wrap him mind around it.
Five years after winning a National Mountain Bike Championship at the University of Colorado, he was leading Stage 17 -- the toughest stage of the Tour de France.
"It was a climb that suited me really well," he recalled. "I felt like I was home in Colorado."
The 24-percent grade of the treacherous Col de la Loz was right up his alley.
"Some of the highest mountains we climb on the (Tour de France) are the lowest points you can get in Colorado. So once I hit that kind of altitude, I’m like, 'OK, now I’m back at home.'"
The Durango kid looked at home on cycling’s biggest stage.
His 15th place overall finish was the highest by an American since 2015. He dreams of taking a victory lap down the Champs Elysees in Paris.
"Down the road, I really want to shoot of that, but I’m not putting any timetable on it necessarily," says Kuss.
At this point, America’s next cycling hope is happy with a supporting role for Team Jumbo Visma. But there may be an opportunity to go for the gold in the Tokyo Games.
"Yeah, I’d love to race the Olympics," Kuss said with a smile. "I think it’s a really unique event and I think it would be a huge privilege to represent the U.S. there."
With Mt. Fuji part of the road race course, you’ve got to like his chances.
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