In recent years, the Dutch have been spoiled with strong riders. The present golden generation began with Robert Gesink, and was soon followed by riders like Bauke Mollema. Tom Dumoulin is currently the greatest Dutch rider of the pack, and he became the first Dutchman to win a Grand Tour in a long time. But two years before the stunning victory of Dumoulin, in the 2016 Giro d’Italia, it seemed that Steven Kruijswijk was about to take home the top prize.
Steven Kruijswijk is a solid cyclist
In 2016, Kruijswijk had the pink jersey of the Giro wrapped tightly around his shoulders. Nothing seemed to stand in the way of his victory—until he ran into that wall of snow and Vincenzo Nibali nipped off with the win. And that was a cardinal error, because it just might have been the ultimate validation of Steven Kruijswijk’s career. He had had good rankings in previous years, but often terribly bad luck during the first few weeks of a race. Yet he never gave up, and he still managed a respectable 4th in the 2016 Giro d’Italia.
2011 was the first time that Kruijswijk rode in a Grand Tour with ambitions for the general classification (GC). He had only been on the then Rabobank team for a year, and finished impressively in eighth position in the 2011 Giro. In the youth classification, he even placed second, which was two minutes behind Roman Kreuziger, who took the white jersey.
In the years that followed, Kruijswijk regrettably failed to meet the expectations generated by his previous good performances. He rode top ten in smaller races here and there, but aside from a victory in the Arctic Race of Norway, there was anothing to write home about.
Side-by-side with Contador
2015 was the year in which we finally saw Kruijswijk rise again. During the Giro of that year, he rode poorly in the first week, but managed a good finish in ninth position. Due to the disqualification of Alberto Contador, he even moved up a place in the history books. It was the start of a good period.
The following year was the aforementioned Giro of 2016, and then in 2017 Kruijswijk again raced in Italy. Unfortunately, his form was not there and he eventually he gave up due to illness.
It’s in moments like that when a rider starts to doubt oneself. Maybe Steven did that too, but to the outside world he didn’t show it. And the last Tour de France proved that he is a rider who can achieve a good general classification. Together with Primož Roglič he rode hard and had a great ending, finishing fifth overall.
In the upcoming Vuelta Kruijswijk obviously intends to ride a good classification. He’s known for having a strong third week, which is in his favour. So, we’re hoping that he will come through the first week without any bad luck. If he stays strong on his bike, he may well be an contender for the final victory in the last week.