Steven Kruijswijk abandons Vuelta a España 2019

The Dutchman had been one of the overall favourites heading into the race

(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Steven Kruijswijk has been forced to abandon the Vuelta a España 2019.

The Jumbo-Visma rider had been suffering with the aftermath of a crash on the opening team time trial in Torrevieja.

Kruijswijk and his team-mates fell in the stage one TTT when a pool of water wet their tyres heading into a corner and caused them to slide.

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Jumbo-Visma said Kruijswijk was dealing with some injuries after the fall, but that by stage three he was improving.

But the Vuelta organisers confirmed that Kruijswijk had pulled out of the race part way through stage four from Cullera to El Puig due to a sore knee.

Jumbo-Visma said: "Steven Kruijswijk has abandoned the Vuelta. He's suffering a sore knee due to the crash in the TTT and the pain has gotten worse."

Kruijswijk and his team lost 40 seconds in the opening TTT because of the crash, putting him in 97th place overall after heading into the stage as favourites to take the first red jersey.

The Dutchman then lost a further 1-43 on stage two as the race exploded unexpectedly, with his team-mate Primož Roglič managing to stay near the top of the general classification.

At the end of stage three, Kruijswijk sat 51st overall at 2-19 down on race leader Nicolas Roche (Sunweb).

Jumbo-Visma went into the Vuelta as one of the strongest teams in the race.

Kruijswijk finished third at the Tour de France, while Roglič finished third at the Giro d'Italia. Slovenian Roglič was expected to be the team's designed leader having had the summer to rest, but Kruijswijk would have been able to comfortably step into a leadership role if the race demanded.

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At the start of stage four Nairo Quintana (Movistar) was the best-placed of the GC favourites, sitting just two seconds down on Roche.

Roglič also remained in contention, sitting sixth at 35 seconds down.

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