Steven Kruijswijk emphasizes that on Tuesday he had no choice but to step off in the fourth stage of the Vuelta a España. De Brabander suffered too much from the knee injury he sustained on Saturday in a fall in the team time trial.
"On Monday I had been on the bike for four hours with pain. We would look at the situation today, but I had problems with my knee from the start and as soon as they started to accelerate in the peloton I felt that it was not going well", said Kruijswijk after the fourth stage won by Fabio Jakobsen in conversation with Eurosport .
"Then you have to be realistic and ask yourself whether it makes sense to continue or not, certainly with a view to what is to come. I saw little hope of improvement in the coming days and then driving on makes no sense anymore."
Kruijswijk finished third in the Tour de France last month - his main goal this season - and started the Vuelta at Jumbo-Visma as shadow leader of the Slovenian Primoz Roglic. He lost valuable time on Sunday in the second stage and was therefore not in a good position in the general classification.
Fabio Jakobsen sprinted to victory in the fourth stage. (Photo: Getty Images)
"Went to Spain to take part in the podium"
Despite his success in the Tour and his role as shadow leader in the Vuelta, leaving the race early is of course a major damper for Kruijswijk. "I went to Spain with the idea of taking part in the podium, but on day one that was already gone. That would be a deception, yes," said the 32-year-old from Brabant.
"I was hoping that it would be an innocent fall and that I could catch up later, but I realized that it was not going well. It is frustrating that I have to step down. I do not want to look far ahead, but I do not expect that it is the end of the season. We must now have everything checked. "
Kruijswijk finished fourth in the Tour of Spain last season. In 2016, the Dutchman also had to leave the last major round of the year in the first week; three years ago he lasted until the sixth stage.
See also: Debutant Jakobsen trumps Bennett in the fourth stage of the Tour of Spain