"Am I capable of winning the Tour? Yes, why not" - Sepp Kuss not looking to start Tour de France as pure domestique for Jonas Vingegaard

Sepp Kuss is now a Grand Tour winner following the Vuelta a España. The American has proven himself in an impressive 2023 campaign, and as several teams gear up to battle Team Visma | Lease a Bike at the Tour de France, Kuss believes he may have a different role than what he's had before.

"I've had a long offseason. Because I stopped my season after the Vuelta, I was able to travel back to the United States a little earlier. I enjoyed my tributes and traveled around a bit," Kuss shared with Wielerflits. "It was important for me to see how everyone in Durango and the United States experienced the Vuelta. To see my name and posters on some buildings was really cool."

It was the highlight of Kuss' career last summer, and overall a season where he was part of all three Grand Tour victories - with great importance in all of them. He starts 2024 with a new set of ambitions and regarded as a more dangerous rider in the three-week races, and will be racing the Vuelta a España once again with the number one, with dreams of victory.

"Of course I want that. But it's not something I have to do," he admits however. "The Vuelta final victory has made me have more confidence in myself. Only I don't feel the need to do something I'm not capable of. Am I capable of winning the Tour? Yes, why not? You have to shoot for that. Of course it is the toughest race to win. But in racing there are so many situations and circumstances. At the end you have to be the strongest and have the most luck.”

Judging by the past year, it is realistic to say that he is already in the right setup to win the Grand Boucle if that is to happen one day. For the time being, Jonas Vingegaard has been the ruler of the French Grand Tour, but with UAE Team Emirates and BORA - hansgrohe preparing serious firepower for the summer, the Dutch team may change tactics and use Kuss the same way as the Vuelta.

“Obviously it depends on how good I am. But strategically speaking, it doesn't hurt to start with two leaders," the American says ahead of his Tour de France return. "I think Jonas and I can also work well together. We have similar qualities in the mountains. It is always good for us to have two riders at the top of the rankings.”

Kuss began his season last week, and at the Clásica Jaén Paraiso Interior with a promising sixth spot. He moves on to the Volta ao Algarve now where he will have two mountain stages and a time-trial to test his form.

"But on the other hand, there are always new guests joining the team. Young boys who can fight for the podium or overall victories in the week-long stage races. In the Grand Tours this may be a bit simpler. I pretty much know what my capabilities are in those competitions. In certain situations there will now be more options for me. Although I have to see what that's like with more pressure and expectations," he concludes.

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