If Simon Yates was one clear winner on Tuesday's stage 16 time trial where he extended his overall lead at the Vuelta a España, then Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) was another, after moving onto the overall podium with a spectacularly good performance.
Briefly the fastest rider on the rolling 32-kilometre course when he flashed through the first checkpoint ahead of eventual stage winner Rohan Dennis (BMC), Kruijswijk faded a little in the second part - but only a little.
Come the finish, the Dutchman was fourth on the stage, 51 seconds down and together with Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors), was one of only two GC challengers to put time into Yates.
In Kruijswijk's case, the 37-second gain on Yates has placed him on the provisional overall podium in the third spot, 28 seconds up on Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) and 42 seconds ahead of Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Pro Team).
LottoNL-Jumbo sports director Addy Engels was quietly delighted with his rider's success, saying that it was "a great time trial. He made a big gap on Quintana and Lopez, I didn't expect it to be so big, but he also got a bit on Yates and Valverde, and that was still a good gap."
Engels said that although Kruijswijk had made an excellent start, they never thought he could actually win the stage, because "we knew Rohan would gain a lot of time in the second part.
"But the first part of the course was the hardest, and Steven did the best ride here."
Kruijswijk himself was visibly pleased with his success, telling a cluster of Dutch journalists that he was surprised that he was faster than Dennis because it was hard to keep a steady pace.
"But I knew I was doing something very fast on the course, maybe too fast, and in the end, I thought maybe I'd lose a little bit of time," he said. "For sure I had a good feeling and I'm glad I did this time trial and it's good for the confidence in the next coming days."
Like Yates, he underlined that the time gaps overall were still "very close together on GC" whilst he also pointed out that "Simon did a good time trial as well. This says I'm really in good shape, but that doesn't mean I'm a favourite to win this race."
Engels added, "As long as he's in the race, he can still win it. But can he? Yes. Is it likely? No ... He is a lot closer than he was before. So we'll see."
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