Tour de France: For Rabobank’s Steven Kruijswijk, “a dream becomes reality”
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Friday, June 29, 2012

Tour de France: For Rabobank’s Steven Kruijswijk, “a dream becomes reality”

by Kyle Moore at 12:27 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Dutchman, former Giro d’Italia top ten finisher, making Tour de France debut at 25

Steven KruijswijkSteven Kruijswijk (Rabobank) makes the next step in the steady progression of his career, as the Dutchman starts his first Tour de France tomorrow at the age of 25. He spoke about his primary inspiration since witnessing a stage of the Tour in 1996, in an interview on the Rabobank website.

At a quarter-century in age, Kruijswijk is by no means old, though his debut Tour de France comes a few years later than the premiere of Andy Schleck in 2008 (aged 23) and this year’s youngest rider in the race, Thibaut Pinot (FDJ-BigMat, aged 22). But with other young Dutch talent at Rabobank, namely Robert Gesink and Bauke Mollema, the squad has had no need to rush Kruijswijk along.

And so it is at the age of 25, with already two Giros and a Vuelta a España under his belt, that Kruijswijk heads to La Grande Boucle for the first time. “A dream becomes reality,” Kruijswijk marveled.

“The pressure in the Tour will be even greater,” he said, speaking about the differences between the Tour and the other three-week races. “I understand the media circus is gigantic, an important factor for the riders. I knew last year that this year I should debut at the Tour.

“The preparation went very well. In the Tour of Switzerland I went better every day. In the final weekend, I could go uphill with the best riders. That was an inspiration, especially when you know you’ll be better with more [training]. The confidence at the start of the Tour is there for sure.”

After a breakout placing of eighth in the 2011 Giro, in an edition widely considered extreme, Kruijswijk did allow himself to wonder how it might have gone in 2012, had he ridden the race on the ‘more humane’ course eventually taken by Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp).

“Before the start of the Giro, I had the feeling that [I was going to miss being there], but once it was going, I got the feeling that I’d like to see how I could have completed it. The chance of a good ranking this year was greater than in 2011, and that went very well. But the Tour attracts a lot.”

When the Tour gets underway in Liege on Saturday, and should he be able to finish in Paris in three weeks, the gravity of the moment will not be lost on the Dutchman.

“As with so many young riders, the Tour for me is a source of inspiration,” Kruijswijk explained. “As a child, I wanted to excel in the mountains of the Tour. I have often seen the race on holiday in France. In 1996, I saw the first stage near Nuenen [in the Netherlands] when the Tour started in Den Bosch. I can still remember all that. Then you dream of it yourself. If your career gains steam, then the dream and the hope only gets stronger. With the Giro and the Vuelta, I’ve already experienced what it’s like to be at the top level for three weeks. Now it’s going to happen. It is a reality. I look forward to it with excitement and curiosity.”

Though it is just his first ride, Kruijswijk could find himself as a leader for Rabobank, should Gesink or Mollema falter. With possible expectations, and the possibility of the white jersey on the table, he outlined modest objectives for his debut.

“It’s not that I have a specific target from the outset,” Kruijswijk explained. “I need to find my role within the team and find my way in the Tour. It’s not that I’m completely blank at the start, but you just see how it goes. It could be that I can go for the white jersey, but there may also be choices that occur.

“If it’s the white jersey for myself, or [working for] one of the leaders for the general classification, the latter has absolute priority.”


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