A phenomenal performance from Team Sunweb’s Wilco Kelderman sees him take a strong 4th place on stage 11 – a result that came with time differences so big he moves up to 5th overall.
It was another fast and furious start to the action at stage 11 of the Vuelta a España with 40 kilometres of racing covered before a 14-rider group edged clear of the bunch. Representing the team in the leading group was Lennard Hofstede, who went on to spend the majority of the stage riding in his first Grand Tour breakaway. When one rider jumped clear of the peloton to the breakaway it looked like they may once again prevail, however the GC action going on behind upped the pace and they were swept up for the overall favourites to duke out the victory.
As the bunch headed up the first of two category one climbs the selection began inside the group of GC favourites. Wilco Kelderman, Sam Oomen and Lennard Kämna were all in contention as the group paced their way up the ascent. With the second of the category one climbs coming just after, the group continued to shred and it was Wilco and Sam that went forward. With seven kilometres to the finish an acceleration in the red jersey group saw it split into two, Wilco maintained position in group one whilst Sam slipped into the second group.
From then it was a war of attrition amongst GC favourites and another acceleration meant that Wilco was forced to chase an attack down. Initially distanced from the three leaders with two kilometres to go, he continued to pace his way up the climb and later rejoined the group, whilst edging further away from the other favourites down the mountain. Whilst one rider went clear to take the victory Wilco held stance inside the red jersey group which was made up of just three riders. He finished the day 4th place and his efforts see him move up six places in the overall standings to 5th. Sam Oomen now stands 14th overall.
Wilco said: “Today the weather was really challenging. It was quite cold and rainy but everyone stayed focused on their job for the day. The team kept me in good position throughout the race and at the front when the climbs began. I was able to follow the best guys in the result finishing 4th on the stage – a result I’m really happy with.”
Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef said: “It was another rainy day at the Vuelta with two big mountains at the end of the day. Our goal was to protect Wilco for as long as possible and then explore the possibilities of a breakaway. When 14 riders took a lead, Lennard Hofstede was part of the move which was great. The break was brought back and we still had Sam, Lennard Kämna and Wilco in the first group of 30 riders. The pace was really high and other GC riders started to drop but Wilco could follow the moves to finish 4th on the stage. He moves up to 5th overall – a great day for us.”