Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) is one of just two riders in the Vuelta a Espana’s top 10 that also finished in the top 10 of the Tour de France. Kruijswijk finished fifth overall at the Tour and is currently placed ninth at just 43 seconds down after a closely fought first half of the Vuelta.
It is the first time that Kruijswijk has done the Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espana in the same season, and the first time since 2015 he’s gone into a second consecutive Grand Tour with a top 10 already in his back pocket. The 31-year-old has been there or thereabouts in the mountain tests so far and looked in control during a frenetic ending to stage 11, though he says he occasionally feels the strain from his Tour de France efforts.
“I didn’t feel really well during the stage, but I think that it was because the pace was really high and people kept attacking so there was never a point to be at ease during the race,” Kruijswijk told Cyclingnews. “Towards the final, I was OK. There were some small roads and we started racing towards the finish. I was still up there quite easily so it was a good feeling.
“Some days I feel good and others I feel a little bit less and tired. In the moments that I have to be there I have been, so hopefully I can be OK, especially with three stages coming up where it is really important going for the GC. We will see how it is.”
Though there has been plenty of action between the general classification riders so far, it has been an hors d'oeuvre for what is to come over the next three days. There are currently 14 riders separated by less than two minutes behind new leader Jesus Herrada (Cofidis), but the consecutive summit finishes of La Camperona, Les Praeres and Lagos de Covadonga will see some damage done.
“They’re quite steep climbs, so for sure there will be quite a bit more time differences than we have seen before on the other stages. It will be an important weekend with three really hard days in a row finishing on Sunday. I expect a lot of changes in the GC,” said Kruijswijk. “I don’t know them, so they’re new to me, but I guess they’re really steep.”
LottoNL-Jumbo was heavily present on the front of the peloton in the opening week of the Vuelta a Espana. Kruijswijk hopes that he and the team will be able to take the same tack over the weekend, but says that he will have to play it by ear.
“We want to approach the race aggressively, but we will have to wait and see if we take the initiative and then we will take it day by day,” he explained. “Of course, I want to try and move up so I will try to attack the guys but I will have to see how I’m feeling each day.”
Later this month, Kruijswijk will have the World Championships, after recently being named in the Dutch team’s eight-man line-up, but he says that his primary concern is still the Vuelta.
“For the Worlds, I will see after Madrid," he said. "For sure, it’s a strong team that we have with the Dutch squad but I think that my role will be more about helping the guys there than going for my own chances."