ANDORRA LA VELLA, Andorra (AP) – Sepp Kuss couldn’t suppress a wide smile as he ran to the finish …
ANDORRA LA VELLA, Andorra (AP) – Sepp Kuss couldn’t suppress a wide smile as he ran to the finish line to become the first American in 10 years to win a stage in the Tour de France.
Just before he won the big stage 15 Sunday, Kuss threw his sunglasses into the crowd and raised his arms in the air before covering his face, succumbing to emotion and fatigue.
Tyler Farrar was the last American to win a stage in the biggest bike race of 2011.
“It’s incredible, I’m lost for words,” said Kuss.
The 26-year-old Colorado native left late to make his move to the 191-kilometer (118 mi) drive from Ceret to the foot of the Pyrenees in the hilly country of Andorra.
“This was Sepp’s day,” said Jumbo-Visma teammate Road van Aert, who helped Kuss break down. “He lives in Andorra and has been looking forward to this stage.”
The American attacked on the 1,796-meter Col de Beixalis and held his hard-fought lead over Spanish veteran Alejandro Valverde, who finished 23 seconds behind.
“Honestly, I suffered a lot in this Tour de France. I didn’t feel like I had the spice in my leg. Today I knew it ended where I stayed, so I was motivated for the podium, “said Kuss.
Col de Beixalis climbed the steepest of a day with many climbs in the Pyrenees. Kuss’s average speed was 20.4 km / h (12.7 mph) and 57.9 mph (36 mph) downhill, where it achieved a top speed of 80.6 mph (50 mph).
“I don’t often drive to Col de Beixalis in training because it’s so hard, but I knew that if I had a good space I would stay away until the finish. The van Aert road did a good job for me at the bottom. It means a lot to me to win a Tour de France stage, ”said Kuss.
The Dutch Road Poels finished third and took the polka dot jersey for the best climber.
“It’s going to of course be a big battle for the mountain jersey,” said Poels.
Race leader Tadej Pogacar had a quiet day and stayed on track for his second overall victory.
The defending champion was not questioned until the end of the stage when Jonas Vingegaard followed Ben O’Connor’s lead with two attacks.
Pogacar responded both without a hitch, increasing his overall lead to more than five minutes over Rigoberto Uran and Vingegaard.
“I felt good, and I wasn’t worried about the last ride at all. I just followed the other riders there, as I did,” said Pogacar. “My team did a great job of protecting me all day and giving me everything I needed. The key today was to keep myself hydrated, always have water available, and my teammates did this work. perfectly. ”
Guillaume Martin, who was second for the stage, fell back to ninth place.
For the final battles at Col de Beixalis, the passengers conquered the 2,408m Port d’Envalira, where Nairo Quintana took a break after a high wind forced the passengers on the road. Quintana was the first at the top before being dragged back. Quintana tried again at Col de Beixalis before Kuss took over.
Nacer Bouhanni, who suffered a serious injury in stage 13, retired after the intermediate sprint with 124.5 miles to go.
The rest of the passengers have a chance to recover on the second day of rest of the trip Monday before further climbs await Tuesday.
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