Kruijswijk angry after more bad luck
Steven Kruijswijk is hoping he has got all of his bad luck out of the way in the first few days of the Giro d'Italia. Having already lost 13 seconds after being caught behind a late crash on the opening day, the Dutchman crashed hard on the approach to Mount Etna on Tuesday's stage 4.
The bizarre incident occurred at a questionably signalled 90-degree right-hand bend where some riders continued straight on, some made the turn, and others hit the deck. Kruijswijk, with the help of his LottoNL-Jumbo teammates, swiftly remounted and rejoined the group of favourites for the climb up Etna, losing no time.
"I crashed hard. It was at a very bad moment. I don't know exactly what happened, but part of the peloton went to the other side. Before I knew it, I was on the ground," he explained on his team's website.
"We were good in the front and you think you're out of trouble. Nevertheless, you crash and then it's getting your bike as fast as possible to go again. The boys helped me well. Such a crash is never good, but fortunately, it's mostly some abrasions and I could go on. In a Grand Tour everything has to be smooth and that isn't the case right now. I hope that will turn around soon.
LottoNL-Jumbo's Addy Engels revealed how the incident had stoked the fire in the Kruijswijk's belly, something he believes might in fact help him for what's to come.
"I'm glad he's angry now," said Engels. "That's a better emotion than hanging his head. We must now see what exactly the injuries are."
Mollema: 'a good day to have a bad day'
Bauke Mollema has admitted he was “suffering a lot” on Mount Etna, and counts himself lucky he didn't lose any time to his rivals.
The Dutchman, who is targeting a podium finish in Milan, was in trouble on the 18km summit finish but had the stiff headwind to thank for deterring any meaningful attacks or fireworks from the overall contenders, with whom he crossed the line.
"I am happy it is over because I didn't feel so good today actually," said Mollema on his team's website. "The second half of the race the legs were not so good. In the start, I felt good, but then in one moment… With an uphill finish and you have bad legs, you are always afraid to lose time. I was lucky actually it was a headwind on the last climb; I was suffering a lot."
"The first climb was really long but not so steep, and that went okay," added Mollema. "On the last climb, I was not feeling so good, and I was happy that I finished with the favorites. For once, in the end, it was coming back a little bit, so I could still be there with the group. It was a good day to have a bad day."
Mollema will see how his legs respond over the next few days but there is plenty of time ahead of the next expected GC showdown on Blockhaus on Sunday. A rest day preceded the Etna stage, and the next one, after Blockhaus, precedes the all-important 39km time trial.
Pinot disappointed by lack of Etna action
In contrast to Mollema, Thibaut Pinot cursed the headwind on Mount Etna, disappointed that the first summit finish of the race had little impact on the general classification.
"It was a stage where everyone was marking each other. Also the headwind prevented a selection. We all came together to the line in a small group, which wasn't a super scenario, really," the Frenchman told reporters at the finish.
"The strategy was the same as everyone else's, to wait for others to work. In the end no one did so – no one wanted to expose themselves. My sensations were good. I wasn't super confident coming in from a rest day after just three days, but I managed it all well. I felt good, and at the end of the day it's a shame that it ended up a bit of a damp squib."
Pinot is hoping for more open hostilities on the next summit finish on Blockhaus on Sunday and, as a climber who has improved dramatically against the clock, he has no fear about next Tuesday's time trial. Until then, though, he says the GC men will be sitting tight.
"We'll see in the coming days. We have Blockhaus coming up and then the time trial, which is where it will kick off, but it's going to remain locked this week," he said.
Listen to the Cyclingnews Podcast
Mount Etna was the setting for the first big test for the general classification hopefuls of this year's Giro d'Italia, and the latest episode of the Cyclingnews podcast breaks down the action and the impact on the fight for pink.
As it was, a stiff headwind on the volcano stifled the attacks, with the main group of favourites largely riding up together, save for a late bid for freedom by Ilnur Zakarin.
Daniel Benson and Patrick Fletcher dissect the stage, which saw 2016 champion Vincenzo Nibali put in a brief dig and Bob Jungels put in an assured display to take the maglia rosa.
You can listen below, and to subscribe to the Cyclingnews podcast, click here.