ANDORRA • Sepp Kuss claimed his maiden victory on the Tour de France with a solo ride in the 15th stage as defending champion Tadej Pogacar was barely bothered in the 191.3km mountain trek from Ceret to Andorra yesterday.
Jumbo-Visma's Kuss prevailed from the day's breakaway thanks to a sharp attack in the last climb before holding off Alejandro Valverde in the descent to the finish with the Spanish veteran taking second place 23 seconds behind.
Dutchman Wout Poels finished third, 1min 15sec off the pace before Pogacar and his main challengers crossed the line 4min 51sec behind Kuss of the United States.
The last American to win a Tour stage was Tyler Farrar 10 years ago, something that was not lost on Kuss.
"It's incredible, I am lost for words. I was really suffering in this Tour," he said. "I did not feel like I had the spice in the legs and today, I knew it was finishing where I lived and I was really motivated for the stage and finally, I had really good legs again.
"I am so happy. My girlfriend and her family were on the climb cheering me on and I also want to say hi to my parents back home because I have not seen them for a long time.
"Wout (van Aert) rode all the way down the valley for me. So after a big champion does that, you have to finish the job. I still can't believe I am in the Tour de France, much less winning a stage."
Yellow-jersey leader Pogacar heads into today's rest day with a commanding advantage of 5:18 on Rigoberto Uran with Jonas Vingegaard in third place a further 14 seconds adrift.
There are just six stages after the final rest day, including the final stage, a customary procession to the Champs-Elysees in Paris.
France's Guillaume Martin, who had jumped up to second courtesy of his presence in the breakaway on Saturday, was distanced in the descent from the Port d'Envalira, which at 2,408m is the highest point of this year's Tour.
He could not make it back to the group of overall contenders before the ascent of the Col de Beixalis, where Pogacar's rivals tried to unsettle the overall leader.
Ecuador's Richard Carapaz was the first attacker but he was reined in easily by the Slovenian, who also had little trouble staying on the wheels of Colombia's Uran and Denmark's Vingegaard when they briefly jumped away.