Sepp Kuss closing in on Vuelta a España win as part of Jumbo-Visma clean sweep

Megan Armitage finishes a superb fifth overall in the AG Tour de la Semois in France

Barring accident or other misfortune, Sepp Kuss will on Sunday become the first American in a decade to win one of cycling’s three grand tours when the Vuelta a España ends in Madrid.

With team leaders Primož Roglič and Jonas Vingegaard riding to protect his race lead, Kuss finished close to all of the key contenders on Saturday’s stage to Guadarrama. The stage saw no less than 26 breakaway riders stay clear until the end, with Wout Poels (Bahrain-Victorious) launching a perfectly-timed sprint to catch out 2022 Vuelta champion Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-QuickStep).

Evenepoel was chasing his fourth stage win in this year’s race but fell inches short of overhauling Poels before the line.

Kuss was part of the chasing group of riders which finished 10′21 back, although he, Roglič and Vingegaard deliberately dropped off the back of the group to celebrate, coasting in 16 seconds further back. Their pre-stage advantage was such that there was no threat from their closest rival Juan Ayuso.


He finished 3′44 behind Kuss, with Vingegaard second at 17 seconds. Roglič took third, 1′08 off what would have been a record-equalling fourth victory.

Kuss’ win was unexpected but broadly celebrated across the sport. The 29-year-old started the race as a valued super domestique, or strong support rider, for his Jumbo-Visma team but now will join team leaders Roglič and Vingegaard as winners of one of cycling’s three-week races this season.

The clean sweep of the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and now Vuelta a España by the Dutch squad marks the first time in history that one team has won all three Grand Tours in the same year.

The trio are also set to achieve an incredibly rare feat of finishing first, second and third on the podium in Madrid, something last achieved by the Kas team in the 1966 Vuelta.

Kuss thanked his teammates for their work during the final hilly stage of the race, referencing both Roglič and Vingegaard for their work close to the end, as well as Robert Gesink, Dylan van Baarle and Attila Valter.

“I’m super relieved,” he said, then explained how the celebrations at the end felt. “It was a super special moment. To be able to relax that much in the last K [kilometre] of a mountain stage with your two teammates is just really cool. It hasn’t sunk in yet.”

The Vuelta a España concludes on Sunday with a flat stage to Madrid that is almost certain to conclude in a bunch sprint.

Meanwhile Megan Armitage finished a superb fifth overall in the AG Tour de la Semois in France on Saturday. Stage one winner Karlijn Swinkels (Team Jumbo-Visma) triumphed for the second day in a row, finishing two seconds clear of Clara Koppenburg (Cofidis Women Team) in Bertrix.

Armitage finished as part of a group sprinting for third, 30 seconds back. She crossed the line 13th and ended the race 1′03 behind Swinkels.

Fiona Mangan was a non-starter on the stage.

Armitage’s performance in the 2.2-ranked event marks a reassuring return after she withdrew from the Tour Cycliste Féminin International de l’Ardèche earlier this month due to a head injury. She will consequently be able to line out in the upcoming European championships as part of the Ireland national selection.

Two riders previously named to the squad will miss the campaign. Cycling Ireland announced on Saturday that Sam Bennett is withdrawing from the squad due to illness picked up at the Tour of Britain.

The under-23 competitor Erin Creighton will also miss the European championships due to her crash in the recent Ras na mBan stage race.

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes is a contributor to The Irish Times writing about cycling