Wilco Kelderman and Steven Kruijswijk completed their first test of the 97th Giro d’Italia. In the fifth stage, the first uphill finish, the two leaders of the Belkin Pro Cycling TEAM passed the exam with flying colours. They both finished in the first group in Viggiano behind winner Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida). Kelderman placed eighth, Kruijswijk ended 27th.
The Belkin Pro Cycling TEAM riders now sit 17th and 20th in the general classification. The difference with the pink jersey Michael Matthews (Orica-Green Edge) is 1’12“ and 1’15“.
„We are very satisfied,“ said Sports Director Frans Maassen. „This was the first real test for our GC men and they both finished in the first group. We did expect this, but it’s always nice to see it confirmed. Normally Marc Goos would have been up there as well to help in case of an emergency, but unfortunately he was dropped because of a crash.“
‚Thank you team‘
Kruijswijk was glad he had been able to finish in the front despite the tough final. „A 1.5-kilometre climb is not my specialty, but fortunately no gaps opened up in the group, and Wilco and I were good. This gives us confidence for the days to come. I also have to thank the team. I didn’t waste any unnecessary energy, and they dropped off Wilco and I perfectly for the final.“
Tjallingii still on throne
Maarten Tjallingii will start again in his blue mountains jersey tomorrow. Several riders collected points during the fifth stage, but it was not enough to overthrow Tjallingii as King of the Mountains.
„Tomorrow it will be difficult for Maarten to keep the jersey,” said Maassen. „However, if I’m not mistaken, there are more points up for grabs on the final climb than Maarten currently has. He can nevertheless look back on a beautiful week in blue.“
Big guy Bol
Jetse Bol crashed hard on Tuesday, but still managed to make it to the finish on Wednesday. „Jetse did better than expected,“ said Maassen. „He’s pretty banged up, but Jetse is a big guy. Now we can start working towards the second rest day with him.“
One of the longest stages of this year’s Giro d’Italia awaits the peloton tomorrow. No less than 247 kilometers have to be completed. Maassen said, „I expect that just like today, a large group will start the final climb, but I imagine a smaller group will fight for the stage victory.“