The first summit finish of the 2017 Vuelta a España proved to be a mixed affair for a trio of Dutch riders. Jetse Bol (Manzana Postobon) enjoyed a stint on the road as virtual race leader while Team Sunweb's Wilco Kelderman found his legs after suffering through the opening stanza.
For Steven Kruijswijk, it was another tough day as he continues to feel the effects of a cold. LottoNL-Jumbo's GC hopes took a hit on the challenging stage 3 but Kruijswijk's hopes all but ended on stage 5 as he conceded further time to his GC rivals. The 30-year-old now sits 28th overall at 2:42 minutes behind race leader Chris Froome (Team Sky).
"Still waiting and looking for the right feeling here in @lavuelta! Thanks to the guys of @LottoJumbo_road to keep supporting me!" Kruijswijk tweeted after the stage.
LottoNL-Jumbo's sports director Grischa Niermann added that the team remains committed to Kruijswijk despite his illness.
"His team mates did a great job. Steven was well positioned at the start of the final climb," Niermann said. "He isn't completely fit at the moment and that was very inconvenient during this tough stage. Furthermore, a steep final climb as we saw today suits him less than a longer, less steep climb. But we have confidence in him. We expect that he will become better by the day."
Former teammate Kelderman suffered from cramps on stage 3 and having recovered on the stage 4 sprint day, the 26-year-old crossed the line a GC group lead over by Adam Yates of Orica-Scott.
"Today was a relatively easy day with an explosive end. The team put me in a perfect position before the final climb started and we were able to stay together at the front with Warren [Barguil] and Sam [Oomen]," Kelderman said. "At the end I managed to stay with the GC for a long time and finished just behind the best five guys. It's nice to have a good day and good legs after yesterdays crash."
The result moved Kelderman into 11th place, 1:28 down on Froome.
While Kelderman and Kruijswijk both came into the Vuelta focused on the GC, Bol now sits in 20th place having benefited from his day in the breakaway. The 27-year-old jumped from 35th after he finished eighth on the day following a tenth place finish in the stage 4 sprint. Tenth at the Vuelta a Burgos on the eve of the Vuelta, Bol has carried his form into the race and enjoyed a stint during stage 5 as the virtual leader of the race.
A former teammate of Kelderman and Kruijswijk at Belkin, Bol is riding his first Grand Tour since the 2014 Giro d'Italia and gave Manzana Postobon hope of a debut Vuelta's leader jersey for the majority of the day. However, the Team Sky-led peloton drove a high pace to ensure Froome's lead would remain safe for another day.
"I told the sports director Luis Fernando Saldarriaga before leaving the stage that today was the day," said Bol. "Fortunately, I succeeded in getting into the break of day. I could not believe that I would have been virtual leader of the race. I'm very happy with eighth place on the day and with the ascent in the individual general classification. Tomorrow will be another day and why not try to get another good result."
With stage six a lumpy day in the saddle, Bol could well be the beneficiary of the breakaway before the next key GC day to Xorret de Catí Saturday on stage 8.
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