Kruijswijk survives Astana's "murderous pace" to climb Giro d'Italia GC

After an impressive 5th place on Sunday’s stage to Madonna di Campiglio, Steven Kruijswijk has rekindled his ambitions of a top ten place in the Giro d’Italia.

The LottoNL Jumbo rider finished 38 seconds down on stage winner Mikel Landa (Astana) but his performance on Sunday, coupled with a strong ride in the stage 14 time trial, leaves him 11th overall, 11:42 down on Alberto Contador (Tinkoff Saxo) and the maglia rosa.

Kruijswijk came into the race with firm ambitions of a top ten or even top five finish in Milan but the Dutchman lost considerable time in the opening week of racing and lost over eight minutes on stage 4 to La Spezia. Since then he has been in several breaks and finished second on the stage to San Giorgio Del Sannio.

"My performance yesterday was no coincidence,” Kruijswijk said of his individual time trial.

“Today [Sunday, ed] I had a good feeling in my legs. Jan Boven had warned me for the descent and so knew I had to be at the front there and I gained time on some competitors."

“After the descent to the Campiglio, Astana began to push hard in the front. It was predictable,” Kruijswijk in a team statement.

"The pace was hard but then with ten kilometres from the finish, Tanel Kangert started pulling a murderous pace and behind me, a lot of riders dropped off. I could stay there until three to the end, but when Contador attacked, I couldn’t follow."

Kruijswijk’s performance on Sunday has lifted him from 23rd overall to 14th with a top ten place less than two minutes away. The final week of the Giro is packed with climbing stages and Kruijswijk admits that he must pace himself through the stages. However, after his two rides at the weekend a top ten place is well within his grasp.

"I look at it day by day. When I can continue to perform around a top five in the stages then a top ten is possible. But again, I want to take it day by day. The last week was very hard and also I have to spread my energy. First thing tomorrow is to enjoy the rest day and put the legs up in the air."


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