Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) admits he's surprised to be leading the Giro d'Italia going into stage 17 but he's not taking his three-minute lead for granted heading into the final mountain stages.
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) showed he's still up for the fight on stage 16, despite sitting over three minutes down on the Dutchman, attacking on the climbs and eventually winning the stage ahead of the man in the pink jersey.
The Spaniard moved up to third in the general classification with his win, behind Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) and Kruijswijk knows he's got his work cut out to defend his lead.
"I won’t underestimate my rivals. Valverde is in great condition and I won’t make that mistake," Kruijswijk told Gazzetta World. (opens in new tab)
“There were a lot of attacks on the first climb [of stage 16]. I understand why they made them, but I knew which ones I had to check. I responded to the attacks of [Vincenzo] Nibali and Valverde, then I controlled the stage.”
Who is Steven Kruijswijk
Kruijswijk finished second on stages 14, 15 and 16 to build his lead, while rivals such as Vincenzo Nibali (Astana (opens in new tab)) and Chaves faded on the short mountain stage on Tuesday.
But while all those high finishes have put him in a good position to win the Giro d'Italia on Sunday, Kruijswijk admits he'd have liked to win a stage.
“I would have liked to win one as a gift to the team. There is a hint of regret,” he said
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Stuart Clarke is a News Associates trained journalist who has worked for the likes of the British Olympic Associate, British Rowing and the England and Wales Cricket Board, and of course Cycling Weekly. His work at Cycling Weekly has focused upon professional racing, following the World Tour races and its characters.
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