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Steven Kruijswijk (Belkin)
Belkin rider hopes femoral artery issues are behind him
Kruijswijk has struggled with his legs over the last few seasons after his femoral artery narrowed, an ailment which prevented blood from flowing through it properly. After having surgery on it last year, the Dutch rider is looking to put his problems behind him.
"I guess after what I showed two years ago, I should be able to get the same level now. I'm hopeful for that and I'm going to work on it," Kruijswijk told Cyclingnews ahead of stage 6 of the Tour de Langkawi. "Every race from now on, I just want to get some results. I'm not just specifically working towards one race or another, but I am hoping at the Giro I can be at my best level."
This isn't the first time he has had surgery on his artery. The problem first came up in 2007 and it is entirely possible that it could pop up again. Kruijswijk hopes that he has seen the back of the problem. "I hope that they've fixed it for the rest of my career now. Fingers crossed that they will be good now."
Kruijswijk is one of several climbers at Belkin competing for leadership roles through out the year. Robert Gesink remains one of their top riders, and Kruijswijk often has to play a support role for him. Bauke Mollema has also barged his way up to the top of the Belkin tree. Mollema put in a solid performance at last year’s Tour de France, finishing 6th overall, and he will return this year as joint leader with Gesink.
Despite the competition, Kruijswijk believes he will get his own chances. "There are a lot of races and we can't always start together in the same races, we have to divide the team. I am getting my own chances," he said to Cyclingnews. "I am going to the Giro together with (Wilco) Kelderman, so I will get my chances from the team. After this race, I will do Catalunya and further on in the season I will do the Vuelta."
At the moment, Kruijswijk is riding at the Tour de Langkawi where his teammate Theo Bos is looking to add another few victories to his and Belkin’s palmarès. However Kruijswijk has been putting in a solid performance of his own in the general classification.
The Genting climb on stage four was one of the first real tests of his legs since the operation. "I did the best I could. So that was the maximum for that day, so I'm happy with that,” he explained. “My legs have certainly got better now. Actually it was a big test, riding uphill that long. I think the test succeeded so I think I can look forward to the rest of the season."
Kruijswijk finished seventh on the queen stage to Genting Highlands and, all things being well, he is line to finish to retain that position in the general classification when the race finishes in Kuala Terengganu on Saturday.