BEING PRO—Neilson Powless & Sepp Kuss
The two American neo-pros discuss their successful transition to the WorldTour
Hometown: Sacramento, California
Hometown: Durango, Colorado
You are both new to the LottoNL-Jumbo WorldTour squad. How has the transition been with taking this
NP: It’s been a pretty smooth transition. The team has been taking care of us and preparing us well. They have given us the opportunity to race WorldTour races this year. Sepp was able to do Strade Bianche and I did Milan-San Remo, both of which were huge races, so we were thankful that we had those opportunities from the team. Even coming back here to the U.S. to race the Amgen Tour of California is an awesome treat, and we just have to remember that the first year will probably be the hardest. Each year you just have to trust the process and gain knowledge.
Sepp, what is the main difference between racing in America and Europe?
SK: The depth of the races overall in Europe is what stands out the most for me. Over here in the U.S. you definitely have talented guys to race against, but it’s more top-heavy in Europe, and it takes a bit to get adjusted to racing because there are so many more riders who are at a super-high level. In the Tour of the Basque Country, for example, I would say it would be tough to just get by in that race without being at an extraordinarily high level of fitness.
You both have come to the sport from a mountain biking background. How has that helped you with positioning or bike handling?
NP: It probably helped Sepp while he was racing the dirt roads and gravel in Strade Bianche. Overall, though, it’s a different type of animal. Mountain biking may help you feel better on the bike with how you move through the peloton and navigate the feel of the roads. It is much different, though, as in mountain biking you need to be more technical and know the trails, whereas when racing on the road you need to be more aware of the riders around you and watching the flow of the riders. There’s always the washing-machine effect, so you just need to ride those waves and make sure you’re at the front when you need to be.
SK: It’s definitely scarier on the road when it comes to positioning. With mountain biking, it’s not as bad, because you spend most of the time riding by yourself so it isn’t too scary. Still, there are plenty of times on the road when you find yourself wishing that you’d taken a courage pill in the morning to get through tight sections.
With the transition to this next level, how has your training regimen changed or increased with the larger races and number of race days you’re doing now?
SK: Actually, not too much, as the races are longer and harder, but there’s only so much you can do at home while training. It’s different more so in the U.S., because we didn’t have as many consistent hard races compared to what we have in Europe, so that plays a big part in the training.
NP: Our type of training has more to do than the amount of hours we are training. We’re doing a lot more double-day training sessions on the bike and more specific other variables that we now have with our team. We can maximize our nutrition with our nutritionist and learn better ways to recover we do double days. We can do simulation training where maybe you’ll have a road stage in the morning and a time trial in the afternoon. With the racing being different, we do have to train differently, so the simulations are key. And since everyone is trained by the team, there is a lot of knowledge there to absorb.