Kruijswijk: We have shown we are capable of fighting for Grand Tours
Ineos may be set to take the top two spots in the Tour de France general classification as the race heads to Paris, but the final step on the overall podium is all but guaranteed to be occupied by a rider in Jumbo-Visma yellow and black. Steven Kruijswijk ascended into the Tour top three with a solid ride on Saturday’s stage 20.
With his first career Grand Tour podium virtually assured, Kruijswijk says his team has proven that it is primed to challenge Ineos in the years to come.
“We’ve shown as a team that we’re a squad for the Grand Tours,” he said after the 20th stage. “I think if you keep in mind that we came in with a lot of goals, with the sprint part of the team, and then the TTT, and we’re still capable of being there in the mountains it shows that we’re capable of fighting for the Grand Tours.”
Kruijswijk has been knocking on the door of a Grand Tour podium for years, coming oh-so-close in 2016 when a crash on a descent in the third week of the Giro d’Italia saw him drop out of the race lead and fall to a fourth place finish. For the 32-year-old Dutchman, third overall at this year’s Tour behind Egan Bernal and Geraint Thomas is a mission accomplished—particularly after the altering of stages 19 and 20 left Jumbo-Visma with less road to utilize in the fight to leapfrog Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step).
“This was our main goal at the beginning of the Tour,” Kruijswijk said. “The shortening of the last two days didn’t make things easier but we got on the podium at the right time. Since the race start in Brussels, we were in the right flow.”
That podium objective may have been the driving factor behind the team’s tactics on Saturday. Jumbo-Visma drove a hard tempo up the final Alpine climb of the Tour, helping to drop Julian Alaphilippe (Deceunicnk-Quick-Step) and make room for Kruijswijk on the podium, but Kruijswijk himself did not seem keen on making an attempt to attack the yellow jersey.
Just the same, Jumbo-Visma showed on Saturday what they showed on several other occasions throughout the race: The squad had the horsepower to take control of the race in the mountains. In contrast to recent editions of the Tour de France, this year’s Tour featured less driving of the pace by Ineos domestiques and more screen-time for the mountain goats of a few other teams, with Groupama-FDJ and Movistar also spending plenty of time at the front.
Although Kruijswijk may be content with the podium spot, his team’s performance this July is evidence that Jumbo-Visma may have what it takes to challenge the Ineos juggernaut for bona fide three-week victories in the future.
As Kruijswijk pointed out, one of his team’s biggest stars did not even race the Tour de France, and perhaps with a full contingent of the team’s best all-rounders, Jumbo-Visma could deliver an even bigger result.
“We have Primoz [Roglic] in the team who wasn’t even here and a few other guys who make the team really strong,” Kruijswijk said. “In the next years, we can really take the fight to Ineos and take Grand Tour wins.”