Over­shoot­ing a left- hand bend in the mist, Krui­jswijk hit the wall of snow that lined the road, his Bianchi som­er­sault­ing over him

KRUI­JSWIJK’S GIRO GOES DOWN­HILL

Procycling - - Review Of The Year 2016 -

Maybe Steven Krui­jswijk’s weak­ness was that he was too strong. The Dutch­man spent 18 stages of the 2016 Giro rid­ing a text­book race. He laid low for the first 13 stages, never re­ally show­ing his face, yet go­ing into the fi­nal week fourth over­all. Then a hat-trick of sec­ond places in con­sec­u­tive moun­tain stages put him three min­utes clear of sec­ond-placed Este­ban Chaves with three days to go. If Krui­jswijk hadn’t been so ob­vi­ously climb­ing bet­ter than ev­ery­body else, by some dis­tance, maybe his ri­vals wouldn’t have looked so hard else­where to find vul­ner­a­bil­ity.

The 2,774m Colle dell’Agnello was the most fear­some climb re­main­ing in the race, loom­ing mid­way through stage 19. The pass marks a change in coun­try, from Italy to France, and for Krui­jswijk it marked a change in for­tune. On the climb, all 21km of it, he re­mained in con­trol. The pace set by Chaves and Vin­cenzo Nibali, then fourth over­all at 4:43, never trou­bled him, and the trio crested the peak to­gether. But the de­scent would prove his undoing.

Match­ing a de­scen­der of Nibali’s renown would be tough for many in the pelo­ton. Krui­jswijk man­aged less than a kilo­me­tre be­fore mak­ing a mis­take – a small er­ror which had huge con­se­quences. Over­shoot­ing a left­hand bend in the mist, Krui­jswijk hit the wall of snow that lined the road, his Bianchi som­er­sault­ing over him. Krui­jswijk stopped but the clock kept run­ning. It was a minute be­fore he got up and go­ing, and even then he was rid­ing no­tice­ably hes­i­tantly.

Rid­ing alone against the grouped forces ahead – Nibali and Chaves had team-mates - Krui­jswijk lim­ited his losses in the val­ley but on the fin­ish­ing climb to Risoul he ca­pit­u­lated and lost nearly five min­utes to Nibali. The Ital­ian wasn’t done – the next day he pushed Chaves out of the pink jer­sey, while Krui­jswijk slipped off the podium into fourth.

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