Team Sunweb’s Wilco Kelderman impressed at La Pandera today as he climbed to 6th on the stage and moved up to 3rd overall.
The 14th stage of the Vuelta a España brought the races first hors category climb, a gruelling ascent at La Pandera. The day opened with a fast and furious attempt for riders to make the day’s breakaway, with an eventual group of 10 riders going clear. After extending their lead out to eight minutes, the group reached the bottom of the climb for a few riders to drop and a lone rider staying clear to take the victory.
On the ascent to Puerto Locubin the select group of GC favourites began to form. As the make-up of the group reduced, Team Sunweb’s Wilco Kelderman remained tucked inside the bunch. With four kilometres to go riders were tackling the hors category La Pandera and an attack saw two riders jump clear of the GC group. Wilco followed the wheel of the red jersey, and when he was distanced he paced his way back to the group. As the GC duo were caught and the favourites were back together, Wilco launched an attack of his own. Almost immediately another rider counter attacked and went clear to take 2nd on the stage. Wilco continued to ride alongside the favourites to take a strong 6th place. His efforts mean that he moves up to third place in the general classification.
After the stage Wilco said: “It wasn’t a great start to the day with Sam not feeling well. It was pretty hectic and it was hard to focus with such a bad moment going on for us. He helped me a lot and to loose him is a huge disappointment for the team but we will continue to fight for a good result here. The rest of the team did a great job to bring me into the final climbs in a good position. When the other GC guys started to attack I just rode my own pace and I always came back to the group which was perfect. It was a perfect day, the legs were good and I’m happy to move up to 3rd with the best guys.”
Team Sunweb coach Arthur van Dongen said: “Today Wilco did an amazing job. He was well protected and in a good position before the climbs. When the GC groups exploded he could still follow the best riders on the GC. Sometimes he was 15-20 metres behind but we had already discussed upfront not to panic, and to follow his own rhythm. We’re really happy and proud that he moves up to 3rd overall. His shape is good and we hope to continue with this momentum over the coming week.”