There were only three American riders in the 2020 Tour de France, but each made their impact felt in a unique way.
Veteran Tejay van Garderen played a supporting role for EF Pro Cycling on his ninth career start, while Neilson Powless (EF Pro Cycling) and Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) each impressed in their respective first laps.
Powless made four breakaways, while Kuss was Primož Roglič’s last teammate in the decisive climbs across the Alps. The two won the top 5 in the stage results, and Kuss made his way into the top 15 in the overall standings playing the domestic climbing role. Van Garderen was a mentor and road captain of a young and ambitious EF Pro Cycling team, and played a key role in helping to organize the last day solidarity movement within the peloton to make a statement on racism.
Here’s a look at the highlights for each American pilot:
Sepp Kuss, 26 years old (Jumbo-Visma)
Tour statistics: 15th overall at 42:20 backstroke, 4th on stage 17, 6th on stage 15
Kuss improved as the Tour went on and rose to the occasion in the Alps when it mattered. The runner from Durango, CO was Roglič’s last man in the final mountain stages and was instrumental in protecting Captain Jumbo-Visma in the final climbing time trial. The Coloradan celebrated his 26th birthday on the Grand Colombier and confirmed that he was America’s best climber for a generation. Kuss downplayed his future chances of leading a GC team, insisting he’d rather win stages and help his team win.
And after: World Championships, Tour of Spain
What he said: “It was a great way to end the Tour. At the end of the day, we’re happy with what we’ve done in this Tour. It is what it is. You put a lot of time and effort into it. It’s strange to end up here. The third week [was] Really difficult. But for me personally, I felt better and better with each step. I felt better the third week than the first week. It’s encouraging. ”
Neilson Powless, 24 ans (EF Pro Cycling)
Tour statistics: 56th overall at 3:03:09, 9th overall for white jerseys, 4th stage 6, 5th stage 8
Powless took full advantage of EF Pro Cycling’s attack strategy. With team captain Rigoberto Urán in reserve for the GC, Powless had the opportunity to move through key stages. The Tour rookie made four major breakaways and reached the top 5 twice in week one. Like Kuss, he was able to run the Tour on his birthday, which will likely be unique if the Tour returns to its traditional July 2021 date. Powless also made headlines around the world after becoming the first Native American in the world. North. to participate in the 117 year old event.
And after: World’s Championships
What he said: “Now that the last step is over, I can appreciate its beauty. The whole tour was an amazing experience. I didn’t think I could come to Europe this year, I did and was able to start the Tour. I made one of my lifelong dreams of running the Tour come true. Now I can create new ones.
Tejay van Garderen, 32 ans (EF Pro Cycling)
Tour statistics: 91st overall at 4:22:20, ninth career lap
Twice in the Tour’s top 5, van Garderen happily slipped into an assisting role in this Tour. With Urán finishing in the top 10 and the team leaving with a stage victory, it was a job well done. Van Garderen did his job shooting the middle mountains and helped bring the Colombian climbers safely to the final climbs. Van Garderen then played a key role in helping to organize the last day’s effort among the riders to wear face masks emblazoned with ‘No To Racism’ on the front in what was the peloton’s first major statement in 2020.
And after: no races on the program
What he said: “’Rigo’ is up there, and we are ready to support him. The third week is always the test of a grand tour. We haven’t seen any cracks, but when you get to the top level you don’t see those cracks until the third week of racing.