Team Sunweb worked to bring a potential GC threatening move back to the bunch to see Wilco Kelderman finish inside the pack and remain 3rd overall.
The attacks came in thick and fast from kilometre zero of the 19th stage of action at the Vuelta a España. After two kilometres, two riders went clear with 17 others bridging across to join them. The fast pace in the peloton meant that the move was soon brought back, with another 19 riders later jumping clear of the bunch to form the day’s breakaway which would go on to contest the stage victory.
The battle amongst GC contenders was ignited on the final climb of the day, where two riders accelerated away from the peloton. With the move a threat to Wilco Kelderman’s position in the general classification, Team Sunweb took to the front of the bunch to lead the chase to the rider. With 2.5 kilometres to the finish the attacking duo were swept up by the Team Sunweb lead peloton. After a job well done, Wilco Kelderman finishes the day amongst GC favourites and with no time gaps on the stage he remains 3rd in the general classification with just two stages left to contest.
“It was a difficult climb in the beginning but with the break going early it was a relatively easy opening to the stage,” explained Wilco. “When GC teams started to ride we knew it was going to be a huge fight on the last climb but we managed to survive it. Chad and Søren did a great job to chase back the GC attack, to have their support along with the rest of the team is super. Tomorrow will be completely different and it will be really tough. I will give everything to defend my podium spot and with the good legs I am confident that we’ll see it through.”
Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef said: “Today the plan was to protect Wilco and have riders with him into the final climb. On the last climb, as expected, riders started to attack and a GC rider went clear. The team did a great job in pulling at the front to bring the move back and a really strong ride saw things come together with 2 kilometres to go. We have a tough stage to Angliru tomorrow which will be tough.”