Steven Kruijswijk, left, ended third in the Tour de France, behind champion Egan Bernal (centre) and Geraint Thomas. Photo: Christian Hartmann/Reuters

EL PUIG, Spain – Dutch rider Steven Kruijswijk, who finished third at this year’s Tour de France, has been forced to abandon the Vuelta a Espana four days into the race with a knee injury, his Jumbo-Visma team said on Tuesday.

Kruijswijk, 32, was among several Jumbo-Visma riders involved in a crash in the team time trial on the opening stage of the Vuelta, which seriously harmed the team’s chances of challenging for the general classification.

The Dutchman was able to complete stages two and three, but Jumbo-Visma announced in a brief statement on Twitter during Tuesday’s stage that he had withdrawn due to a sore knee, with the pain worsening since Saturday’s crash.

Kruijswijk was Jumbo-Visma’s co-leader at the Vuelta alongside the highly fancied Primoz Roglic.

His withdrawal is a blow for the Slovenian’s chances of an overall victory as the Dutchman is strong in mountain stages, where he would have been able to support his teammate.