For quite some time Rabobank's Stef Clement held the best time in today's uphill time trial at the Giro d'Italia and the Rabobank team welcomed one more strong performance within its ranks courtesy of Steven Kruijswijk, whose 14th place finish puts him 1:40 away from the top-ten overall.
"I looked at doing a time as a reference for Kruijswijk," Clement said.
"We asked Stef to do so also for himself," Rabobank team manager Luc Eisenga told Cyclingnews. "He came out of a long injury and the doctors didn't agree on what the injury exactly was. He was lined up at the Giro at the last minute to replace Tom Leezer who had a knee injury.
"Here, Stef has found the joy of racing again. We're happy that he rode well in this uphill time trial, it's mentally a good thing for him."
Clement was a bronze medallist at the time trial world championships in 2007 and also won the Chrono des Nations in 2008. He rejoined Rabobank in 2009 after spending three years with French outfit Bouygues Telecom because he wanted to be part of the ProTeam team loaded with young Dutch talent, specifically Robert Gesink, Lars Boom and Bauke Mollema.
Kruijswijk is next on the list of gifted Dutch riders produced by the Rabobank Continental team, the feeder squad for the ProTeam. "We're extremely happy with how Steven is going at this Giro," Eisenga said. "Last year he finished 18th overall after replacing Oscar Freire two days before the start. He's now confirming what we got to know from him last year."
"I gave everything I had today in this pretty hard uphill time trial," Kruijswijk said at the end of stage 16 where the 23-year-old scored the 14th best time and bettered Clement by nine seconds. "But I hope to do better in the future."
"The investment of 15 years by Rabobank for development is paying off," Eisenga said. "Seven of our nine starters at the Giro come from our Continental team, only Bram Tankink and Graeme Brown don't."
Kruijswijk remains in contention for a top-ten finish at the Giro d'Italia and he's less than three minutes away from the white jersey of best young rider held by Roman Kreuziger (Astana).