Famed cyclist and Durango native Sepp Kuss came home Thursday as the city’s guest of honor for his latest accomplishments.
Durango Devo hosted a homecoming celebration at Buckley Park, honoring Kuss for becoming the first American since 2013 to win a Grand Tour cycling event, when he won the Vuelta a España in Spain on Sept. 17. He also won a stage in the Tour de France in 2021.
“It’s definitely surreal,” Kuss said about his victory while speaking to reporters at the Durango Cyclery. “First off, I never expected to be in this position. But at the same time it’s not a dream come true because its something I never dreamed of, never expected. During the race, it became more real, the prospect of winning the Vuelta, but I always tried to keep myself distanced from that thought because so much can happen.”
He has been part of the highly decorated Team Jumbo-Visma since 2018. Jumbo Visma won all three of the Grand Tour events this season, the first team to ever do so.
The celebration began at 3:30 p.m. with Durango Mayor Melissa Youssef, Durango Devo Director Levi Kurlander and Durango Devo founders Chad Cheeney and Sarah Tescher speaking about Kuss’ successes. Kuss then spoke at a Q&A session.
Hundreds of fans traveled from various states to see Kuss and get some gear signed by the homegrown legend.
The bike parade began at 4:30 p.m. on Main Avenue with Kuss, Durango Devo youth cyclists and then the general public. Hundreds of cyclists, including the Durango Devo junior team, rode behind Kuss around the route through downtown Durango.
“I think if I was in the same position as those Devo junior kids on the front line I would’ve been like, ‘oh yeah that’s the local guy,’” Kuss said. “It was really special and I hope to be a good role model for the community and try and be as much of a part of the community as possible while I live overseas. I have my life over there, but I always feel a part of the Durango community.”
After the parade, Kuss was supposed to sign autographs for 20 to 30 minutes at Buckley Park. However, the line was so massive Kuss ended up signing autographs for close to two hours.
The line of fans stretched out of Buckley Park, down Main Avenue and toward the AutoZone parking lot. Fans had Kuss sign numerous types of memorabilia, pictures and even some cycling shirts fans were wearing.
“When I learned about all the banners and signs they were putting up in town, it was really moving for me,” Kuss said. “I never expected that level of pride that everyone was showing in Durango. For me, that was really moving, especially today was more emotional than crossing the finish line in Madrid because it’s just a bunch of people but here are the people that I care about.”
Despite the long line, the atmosphere was very lively with the Durango band Elder Grown playing on the stage just to the left of where Kuss was signing autographs.
After the autograph signing, Kuss was very gracious with his time with media members, speaking for about 30 minutes, answering various questions ranging from Durango to his plans for the next season, the Olympics and changes at Jumbo-Visma.
“A lot of people think Durango is a small town far from any big cities in the mountains, but they don’t really know what Durango is,” Kuss said. “You can’t really explain in one speech or you need to write a book about it. I’m always grateful for Durango and what it brought me through the fact of living here.
“Just by virtue of living in Durango, you already start at an advantage because you have so many outdoor opportunities. The community is so ingrained in outdoors and it’s all really good people. It’s a wholesome way to grow up.”