It's been a staple of Grand Tour leaders' press conference since the Festina Affair of 1998: at some point during their tenure, they are called upon to profess their commitment to the fight against doping.
Leader of the Giro d'Italia since the weekend and now three minutes clear in the general classification, Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) was asked if he felt the need to make a statement about doping after finishing safely in the peloton at Cassano d'Adda on stage 17.
"No, I don't feel to make a statement about this," Kruijswijk said. "Of course I'm against it. I've got nothing to say about it. I feel happy to be at this level. It proves that it's possible without doping because I know it from myself. I know that the past years haven't been the best for cycling but I think it's improving a lot and I have confidence in this cycling.”
Kruijswijk's LottoNL-Jumbo squad is descended from the old Rabobank set-up, which was thrown into turmoil in the winter of 2012 when the Dutch bank withdrew its sponsorship in response to revelations of the systematic doping programme that existed on the team up to 2007.
Through its iterations since as Blanco, Belkin and LottoNL-Jumbo, the team has played great store on highlighting its transparency. Most notably, Laurens ten Dam, now of Giant-Alpecin, was shadowed by a journalist during the 2013 season and allowed his blood data to be published as part of the book they collaborated on.
For his part, Kruijswijk, who has been with the same set-up since he joined the Rabobank under-23 team in 2007, publishes the details of each of his training rides and races – including his performances at this Giro – on Strava.
"I've done it always. I like to share what I'm doing in races and training so people can also see from the inside what I'm doing. I've got nothing to hide. Within the team we are very transparent about this, and I think it makes cycling more credible," Kruijswijk said.
"I do it because I like to share with the people because they like to follow it and they are interested in what I'm doing for training. They can compare themselves with me, I think. I get a lot of good comments about it, so why not?"
A consistent performer at the Giro since making his debut in the race as a neo-professional in 2010, Kruijswijk has surprised many – including himself, perhaps – with the level of his performances in this year's race.
Five stages from the finish in Turin, Kruijswijk appears impregnable atop the overall standings. The Dutchman placed second on three successive mountain stages to Corvara, Alpe di Siusi and Andalo, increasing his overall lead each day. Despite the relative weakness of his LottoNL-Jumbo team, he seemed utterly untroubled in shutting down the attacks of Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) on the road to Andalo on stage 16.
"I don't think that I've already won the Giro d'Italia," Kruijswijk insisted in Cassano d'Adda on Wednesday. "I'm taking it day by day. The only thing I can do is try my best and do the same as I've done for the last two and a half weeks, and be there in the stages that come and try to bring this jersey to Turin."
The biggest obstacles between Kruijswijk and final overall victory are stages 19 and 20, to Risoul and Sant'Anna di Vinadio, respectively. The mighty Colle dell'Agnello and Col de la Bonette seem to hold no fears for Kruijswijk, who was asked if he was concerned that any particular weaknesses might be exploited in the Alps later this week. "No, I don't have a weak point," he said.
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