When Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) finished eighth at the Giro d'Italia in 2011, his future looked bright. A recurring problem with an artery nearly put paid to that, but the 2015 has seen the Dutchman once again competing with the world's best climbers as he rode to seventh overall and battled for the mountains classification at the Giro d'Italia earlier this season.
He went on to a solid performance at the Tour de France and is now winding down what has been a long year. Currently racing at the Tour of Britain, one of his last races this season, there is still one goal he'd like to achieve before the year is done.
"Especially this year, I noticed that I'm completely free of the injury. It's nice to be racing again on the top level and I have no problems with it," Kruijswijk told Cyclingnews. "I'm satisfied with how this season is going so far. Hopefully I can end it with a win because I haven't won so far this year. It would be nice to get a stage win."
The Tour of Britain has been a cruel mistress to Kruijswijk and his teammates and after two stages their number had already been cut in half with Moreno Hofland, Brian Bulgac and Nick Van Der Lijke all abandoning during the second stage. Kruijswijk himself has kept out of trouble and sits just 22 seconds behind the race leader with the summit finish on Hartside Fell but, for now, the general classification is a secondary target.
"I keep it in the back of my mind but it's not my main focus. I'm more focussed on a stage win," he said. "I feel quite good. It's hard to say what the course will bring. It's a different race with just six riders, or with three, and the course is pretty hard so it's unpredictable. If we can be there in the final with the three of us then maybe we can do something."
The Tour of Britain is likely to be the penultimate race of Kruijswijk's year with just the Tour of Lombardy to come at the start of next month. Following the Italian one-day race he will take a much needed break and begin his off-season. With his leg injury seemingly gone for good he is looking to build on the strong performances he put in this season.
"Of course I want to improve. We'll have to see where I'll be heading. Of course the Grand Tours are the main focus for me, that's where I can do best. We'll have to see which ones it's going to be," said Kruijswijk. "I focussed on the Giro this year mainly and at the Tour I was not really focusing on the general and more working for the team and maybe I will do it again next year."