Thursday provided a good day to recover for Durango’s Sepp Kuss at the Tour de France.
Stage 6 was completed without problem for the American on Team Jumbo-Visma. That came a day after he crashed and then later was assessed a 20-second time penalty for illegally receiving provisions in the final 20 kilometers of the stage when he took a bottle. It was the same infraction that took race leader Julian Alaphillippe out of the leader’s yellow jersey and gave it to Adam Yates. Carlos Verona also was given the same penalty.
Kuss, 25, and Jumbo-Visma put Wednesday’s misfortune behind them and rode safely to the finish at Stage 6 with eyes on harder days to come in the mountains this weekend before the first of two rest days on Monday.
“There’s so much to come later in the race,” Kuss said in a post-stage interview with NBC Sports. “A stage like this, it’s hard to gain too much.”
Wednesday’s crash and penalty was no problem for Kuss. His job isn’t to try to win the Tour de France but to help teammates Primož Roglic and Tom Dumoulin contend for the yellow jersey. Jumbo-Visma had no problem keeping those two in the top 10 of the general classification standings Wednesday and Thursday.
Kuss would finish 150th on Wednesday’s stage, 4:50 behind the winning time of his teammate Wout van Aert, who claimed a sprint finish to give the team its second stage win in as many days after Kuss had set up Roglic for a Stage 4 victory on Tuesday.
Thursday’s Stage 6 finished with the climb of Mont Aigoual. An early breakaway group that included American Neilson Powless of EF Pro Cycling would get away from the peloton, and Jumbo-Visma and rival Ineos Grenadiers didn’t show much interest in trying to catch the breakaway riders, who were all well behind in the standings.
While Astana Pro Team’s Alexey Lutsenko would ride solo to the finish in 4 hours, 32 minutes, 34 seconds, the Jumbo-Visma riders maintained position safely in the peloton. Dumoulin finished 15th, 2:53 behind Lutsenko. Roglic was 21st in the same time to remain in second place in the overall standings, three seconds behind Yates.
Kuss would finish the stage in 43rd, 3:06 back. He moved into 38th in the overall standings, 7:52 behind the lead of Yates.
“It was a good day,” Kuss said. “I think it was a perfect day for the breakaway. The breakaway group was all really strong riders. Even if the teams were really motivated to chase, I think it would have been hard to bring them back. But, yeah, we just stayed together. In the end, tried to save some energy and wait for the harder days to come.”
Friday’s seventh stage will feature one sizable climb in the first half of the day before a downhill and flat finish in Lavaur. The 90-mile stage will finish with a big sprint. Saturday and Sunday feature mountain climbs in the Pyrenees before Monday’s rest day.