Vuelta a Espana: Kruijswijk confirmed to lead LottoNL-Jumbo

Robert Gesink to support Dutchman in bid for victory

Having finished fourth overall and worn the pink jersey at the Giro d'Italia, Steven Kruijswijk will lead LottoNL-Jumbo at the Vuelta a Espana as he aims for his first grand tour podium result.

Since his best grand tour result to date, Kruijswijk has raced just two events, Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian and the Olympic Games road race, and heads to the Vuelta with 45 race days in his legs. Less than overall rivals Chris Froome (Team Sky), Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar).

"We're going to Spain with a strong team," said 29-year-old Kruijswijk. "We have riders who can assist me uphill, but also men who will support me on the flats. The main goal is to fight for the classification. It is nice that the big GC guys will start in the Vuelta, that gives me motivation and I can measure myself against the best.

"After the Giro d'Italia, I had a lot of rest to recover from my crash and the race. In preparation for the Vuelta, I have not ridden many races. It was planned that way to start as fresh as possible."

Despite a minot setback after the Rio race, Kruijswijk is confident of making a mark on the general classification.

"After the Olympic road race, I got sick and I had to adjust my training schedule," added Kruijswijk. "It is disappointing that I had to finish the final part of my preparation that way. At this moment, I feel better. Now it's important to get through the first stages."

Fellow Dutchman Robert Gesink has recovered from his Tour de Suisse crash and will start his first grand tour in 2016 riding in support of Kruijswijk.

"The Vuelta is an important race towards 2017. I start without high expectations and hope to find my recovery ability and support the team," said Gesink.

The other seven riders chosen for the team will be committed to Kruijswijk's bid for GC as sports director Addy Engels explained.

"We have the team built entirely around Steven. A team with men who strongly ride uphill, as well some guys for the flat. Uphill, it's always handy to have riders with you, but on the flat, it is just as important, which is why there are men like Jos van Emden and Martijn Keizer in the team," said Engels. "Koen Bouwman and Victor Campenaerts, two young riders, will race their first grand tour. I expect them to certainly play a role uphill.

"The big goal is the GC for Steven Kruijswijk, but we will definitely try for breakaways. We have a team with different qualities."

George Bennett is the only rider selected for the Vuelta who rode the Tour de France while Enrico Battaglin, Martijn Keizer, Bram Tankink and Jos van Emden will ride their second grand tour for the year having also started the Giro in May.

Bouwman, 22, and Campenaerts, 24, are the two riders in the squad to be making his grand tour debuts.

LottoNL-Jumbo for 2016 Vuelta a Espana: Steven Kruijswijk, Robert Gesink, Bram Tankink, Jos van Emden, Koen Bouwman, Victor Campenaerts, Martijn Keizer, Enrico Battaglin and George Bennett. 

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