Steven Kruijswijk: ‘I lost the Giro d’Italia here’

The Dutchman relinquished his lead on the maglia rosa after a crash on the descent on the Colle dell'Agnello saw him struggle to get back to his rivals

(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Steven Kruijswijk says that his Giro d'Italia is over after he crashed on the Colle dell'Agnello and lost time to his rivals in the Giro d'Italia. Only one mountain stage remains tomorrow before the flat finish into Turin on Sunday.

The Dutchman of team LottoNL-Jumbo crashed shortly after the start of the descent from the Giro's highest peak. The team took him to the hospital in Besançon after the stage for X-rays, most likely on his ribs and left elbow.

He crossed the line in the sunny Risoul ski resort at 4-54 minutes behind stage winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana). He kept riding and searched for his team’s hotel, stopping at a dead-end and lost on a gravel road.

"Shit," he said, catching his breath. Further down, race officials calculated the times. He still wore the pink jersey, but Chaves took over the race lead by 44 seconds on Nibali and 1-05 on Kruijswijk.

"I tried to give everything, but my body just hurt like hell, and then it's all over. Yeah [I'm still in third], but I lost the Giro here."

27 May 2016 99th Giro d'Italia Stage 19 : Pinerolo - Risoul KRUIJSWIJK Steven (NED) Lotto NL - Jumbo, Maglia Rosa, at Colle dell'Agnello Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA

KRUIJSWIJK Steven (NED) Lotto NL - Jumbo, Maglia Rosa, at Colle dell'Agnello, Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Kruijswijk was positioned to become the first Dutch winner in the Giro d'Italia's 99-year history with only two mountain stages remaining and a hefty three-minute lead over Chaves at the start of the stage.

The television camera then caught his fall, just after topping the 2744-metre snow-banked pass. He overshot a right bend and crashed against the snow, tumbling head over heels.

The neutral service helped him return to his bike and continue. Further down, the Dutch team's caught him and gave him a new Bianchi bike to continue towards the Risoul finish. Ahead, however, Nibali and Chaves worked with their teammates and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) did so with Rafal Majka (Tinkoff).

"I don't know what happened, it was just a stupid mistake. On the descent, I fucked up. Everything it's shit," Kruijswijk said still sitting on his bike on the small gravel road among Risoul's chalets.

"I was on my limit on the top, I wanted to eat and drink something, I was following the rest and then I made a stupid steering mistake and I ended up in the snow bank. The fall wasn't that bad itself, but my bike was a mess and I couldn't' ride on with it, and I lost the leaders, and then you know it's all over."

LottoNL took him to the hospital for checks after Kruijswijk complained of problems. "I feel that I've hurt my ribs, my back," he added. "After the finish, I felt it really bad. My morale is broken."

The race now appears to be between Chaves and 2013 winner, Nibali.

"In these years, I always saw that in the last days of a Grand Tour anything can happen," Nibali said. "I lived through hard days, but today, I found my kick."

"Tomorrow is a hard day, one of the worst or nastiest," Chaves said. "There are three or four of us close together, but I'm going out tomorrow to defend the jersey. If we win, we take the jersey home, if we don't, then that's OK."

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