Vuelta a España pro bike: Sepp Kuss' Cervélo R5 climbing bike

Kuss’ hopes of winning the Vuelta a España lie in the mountains where the American will team up with Cervélo’s R5 climbing bike

Clock09:00, Friday 8th September 2023
Sepp Kuss' Cervélo R5


Sepp Kuss' Cervélo R5

It’s hard to remember the last Grand Tour that didn’t feature Sepp Kuss. Having already ticked off the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France, the Jumbo-Visma rider took to the start line at the Vuelta a España to complete a Grand Tour clean sweep for the season. Going further back he’s started the last five Grand Tours, starting out at the 2022 Tour de France.

All of those were carried out in the role of domestique extraordinaire; the best mountain domestique in the business. That’s now all changed at the Vuelta where Kuss finds himself at the head of an unexpected general classification tilt.

Sepp Kuss in contention after Vuelta stage 6

Things weren’t expected to pan out this way. Jumbo-Visma started the race with the winners of the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France in its ranks, Primož Roglič and Jonas Vingegaard respectively, hoping to claim an unprecedented lockdown of Grand Tour titles in a calendar year.

That target is still possible, except Kuss has emerged as an unlikely candidate to take the third of those crowns. Not unlikely in terms of ability, but in the American’s previous admissions that he doesn’t care much for team leadership. Stage 6 changed that when the 28-year-old infiltrated the day’s breakaway before riding away from his companions to triumph on the day.

Read more: Sepp Kuss wins stage 6 and catapults himself into the GC reckoning

More importantly, he claimed a chunk of time over the main GC favourites, leaving him with a nearly three-minute buffer over Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step), the main threat to and target of Jumbo-Visma’s now three-pronged attack.

There were fears that the lead would dissipate on the second and final time trial of the race on stage 10, but Kuss emerged intact, still over a minute clear of Evenepoel. Now the race enters Kuss’ prime terrain, the mountains, where he could potentially hold on for an unlikely victory.

Read more: Filippo Ganna wins stage 10 time trial as Sepp Kuss impresses to retain red

Forming a key part of this effort over the second half of the race, Kuss will be relying on Cervélo’s R5 climbing bike. Many brands have changed tact in recent years, opting to only create one superbike instead of having dedicated aero and climbing bikes. Cervélo hasn’t followed this path, and riders get to choose between the aero S5 or lightweight R5.

Lightweight bike frame

As is to be expected, Kuss’ R5 is light, a little above the UCI’s 6.8kg weight limit at 6.9kg. It doesn’t feature the same deep aero tubes as the S5, instead keeping things more traditional - bigger tubes equal more weight, something a climbing bike needs to avoid.

Complementing the frame, all of the bike's components have been carefully picked to create a climber-friendly build, starting with the gearing. Giving plenty of options for the climbs, Kuss’ bike has the SRAM Red eTap AXS groupset with a 52/39t chainset and a 10-33 cassette.

The wheels are Reserve’s 40|44 option, with rim depths to match the name. These are on the shallower side, as is to be expected on a climbing bike - like with the frame, less material equals less weight. We interestingly saw the same wheels on Roglič’s Cervélo S5, a surprisingly shallow choice for an aero bike, especially as Reserve has deeper wheelsets available.

Read more: Primož Roglič’s Cervélo S5 for the Vuelta a España

Those wheels are paired with Vittoria Corsa Pro tubeless tyres in a now predictable 28mm width. Some teams still run narrower tyres, but 28mm is by far the most popular choice at this point.

While all focus will be on the climbing, descending can make a big difference in modern cycling, leading to big gaps. To maximise performance on descents, most riders, including Kuss, run a larger 160mm rotor on the front where a higher concentration of braking power is required, with a smaller 140mm rotor on the back.

Overall, there are no surprises on Kuss’ bike, with FSA components making up a lot of the finishing kit, including K-Force handlebars and a SL-K 120mm stem.

The bike is finished off with a Fizik Antares Vento 00 saddle, Quarq power meter, and Wahoo Speedplay pedals.

Bike Specification
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