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Giro d'Italia

Kruijswijk: I made a stupid mistake

Steven Kruijswijk rues an error while descending a mountain pass in stage 19 that may have lost him the Giro d'Italia overall.

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RISOUL, France (VN) — Steven Kruijswijk crashed into a snow bank, fell on his back and lost the Giro d’Italia race lead Friday, but his LottoNL – Jumbo is hopeful that he can take back the pink jersey and win the race Sunday.

The Dutchman started stage 19 with a three-minute lead over Orica – GreenEdge’s Esteban Chaves, but lost 4:54 because of his crash and slipped to third overall at 1:05. Chaves now leads the race by 44 seconds over Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and 1:05 to Kruijswijk.

“Is the Giro over? No,” sport director Addy Engels said at the team’s hotel. “Even in the best situation, if we would’ve had the pink jersey, I would’ve also answered the Giro is over tomorrow evening. That’s also my answer now. But of course, the odds now are not in our favor.”

Dutch riders have won the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España twice, but never the Giro d’Italia. Insiders said this morning that it would be unlikely that Kruijswijk would lose the race lead in the two mountain days before the Torino finish. However, right after Kruijswijk crossed the Colle dell’Agnello and into France, his race lead fell apart.

“I was on my limits on the top, I wanted to eat and drink something,” he said. “I was following the rest, I made a stupid steering mistake, and I ended up in the snow bank. The fall wasn’t that bad itself, but my bike was a mess and I couldn’t ride on with it, and I lost the leaders, and then you know it’s all over.”

He went to the hospital for X-rays after finishing the race, but if everything proves to be fine then the Dutch WorldTour team hopes that he can rebound in the final mountain stage.

The Giro’s stage 20 races mostly through France on Saturday. It covers the Col de la Bonette and the Colle della Lombarda to enter Italy, where the final kicker to the Sant’Anna di Vinadio awaits.

“Tomorrow is another hard today, like today. In the end, Nibali was able to leave Chaves behind with almost one minute today, so things are open,” Engels added. “If he can recover … Until he crashed, he was one of the best riders in the race. If the injuries are not too bad and if he can recover, then maybe we can strike back tomorrow.”

Overnight, the 28-year-old will need to recover his spirits as well.

“I feel that I’ve hurt my ribs, my back. After the finish, I felt it really bad, my morale is broken,” Kruijswijk said. “Still in third? Yeah, but I lost the Giro here.”

UPDATE: Late on Friday, LottoNL – Jumbo tweeted that Kruijswijk suffered a fractured rib.