Giro d'Italia: Kruijswijk fights back to finish seventh overall

After finishing the first week languishing outside the top 20, Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) is set out to close out the Giro d’Italia with his career best Grand Tour result. Kruijswijk was one of the most active riders in the second and third weeks of the Giro, coming close to victory on stage 9. While he was unable to convert his attacks into a stage win he managed to move himself back up to seventh overall with just a final sprint stage remaining.

“It was my ambition to finish in the top 10 of the general classification,” said Kruijswijk. “I succeeded in a very beautiful way. I wasn’t able to win a stage, but I grabbed many good results. I’m glad with that.”

Kruijswijk’s previous best result at a three-week race was eighth at the 2011 Giro d’Italia but problems with his femoral artery saw him struggle for the subsequent seasons. The Dutchman had a second operation on the artery at the end of the 2013 season and has been steadily been improving since, with 15th overall at last year’s Tour de France.

Kruijswijk’s aggression in the big mountains at this year’s Giro also put him in contention for the mountains jersey. After a short spell in blue, he started the day just 16 points behind the classification leader Giovanni Visconti (Movistar). With some help from the pace set by the Astana and Tinkoff-Saxo teams, he was able to put Visconti and his teammate Beñat Intxausti in trouble.

However, when the attacks started coming near the top of the Colle delle Finestre, Kruijswijk was distanced and couldn’t take the points he needed to move past Visconti. “I wasn’t good enough to win the mountain classification, unfortunately,” Kruijswijk said.

“We had to make sure that Visconti and Intxausti were forced behind. That went well, but you know that it’s also a race and the others aren’t thinking about your ambitions to win the mountain jersey. But it was a very good Giro for me. I think that the people in the Netherlands got excited about it. I’m glad that I was responsible for that.”

After it looked like Kruijswijk’s general classification ambitions were all but over, the team were impressed with how he turned his fortunes around. “It was a joy to watch today’s stage,” said directeur sportif Frans Maassen.

“The most important thing is of course that he was 40th after four days and is going to finish seventh overall. The way he fixed it is incredible. He was fighting every day. It’s a seventh place with a silver lining.”

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