It was an image for eternity. Arm in arm, Sepp Kuss, Jonas Vingegaard and Primoz Roglic rolled across the finish line of the penultimate stage of the Tour of Spain.
The historic triumph was actually perfect, the final stage to Madrid - which sprinter Kaden Groves won - was just the deserved lap of honor. The untouchable trio forms the podium in the overall standings - and rides in the same team. "I'm often on winning teams, but wearing the leadership jersey is incredible. I'm living my dream," said Vuelta winner Kuss. At the finish line, the American jubilantly lifted up his bike, which was specially painted red in the color of his jersey.
The Jumbo-Visma team, reverently known as the Killer Wasps because of their black and yellow jerseys, dominated the three major national tours this year like no other team before. Roglic won the Giro d'Italia in May, Vingegaard won the Tour de France in July - and in Spain it was now Edelhelfer Kuss' turn. No team has ever won all three Grand Tours in one year. The KAS racing team had only had three riders from a team on the podium at the Vuelta in 1966.
Jumbo competition is weakening
One reason for Jumbo's strength is the weakness of the competition. Defending champion Remco Evenepoel did not compete in the form of the previous year, and the hard-climbing Spaniards like Juan Ayuso, Enric Mas and Mikel Landa once again did not fulfill the desires of their compatriots. “We expected more resistance, but in the end we had the three strongest drivers in the race,” said sports director Grischa Niermann. His riders have won five stages in the last three weeks in Spain.
Dominance is poison for sports because it can lead to boredom. It also provides breeding ground for all sorts of suspicions, especially in cycling. Of course the Jumbo professionals were asked about it. “We understand the skepticism,” says Vingegaard. "But people should know that we sacrifice a lot and work in great detail. We do everything perfectly in this team and that makes a big difference." He is “100 percent sure, my two colleagues won’t take anything and the same applies to me.”
What Jumbo cannot explain away, however, is Michel Heßmann's positive doping test. The Freiburger tested positive for a diuretic during a training check on June 14th in Germany. The agents stimulate urine production and thus ensure the body's drainage. He was suspended until further notice by his team in August after it became known. The public prosecutor's office searched his apartment, where no doping substances were found. The investigation is ongoing. Heßmann was Roglic's helper at the Giro this year.
Another fraud topic: motor doping
The Vuelta brought yet another fraud issue back to the table this year. After Kuss attacked at the Tourmalet with breathtaking speed, was thwarted by a spectator and repeated the attack without hesitation, ex-professional Jerome Pineau spoke of motor doping. “Sepp Kuss drove ten kilometers per hour faster on the Tourmalet than the group before him,” said the Frenchman.
However, after each stage, the top riders' wheels and a random sample are x-rayed to rule out mechanical fraud. This is not an argument for Pineau. "There is no evidence, but with Armstrong we didn't have it either and everyone knew it," said the ex-professional. The team's dominance is a concern. Jumbo-Visma denied the fraud alleged by Pineau.