Race report

Wilco Kelderman claims 2nd on hilltop finish in La Provence

Tour de La Provence

The second day of action at the Tour de La Provence saw the riders faced with a tricky 174 kilometre long route that featured several climbs throughout the day and a hilltop finish in La Ciotat.

It was expected at the start of the stage that there would be a big fight to get into the breakaway but the peloton was happy to let a break of three riders escape not long after the flag drop. The attackers were quickly able to build up a large advantage of over nine minutes. Yet, the peloton was always in control and heading into the second half of the day the gap started to tumble.

The breakaway put up a good fight but were caught at the summit of the penultimate climb. From therein the battle for position in the peloton was intense as riders fought to be at the front heading down the descent before the climb to the line. An attacking duo managed to escape from the bunch and led onto the opening ramps of the ascent but with the peloton in full flight behind, they were caught with three kilometres to go.

A tactical battle ensued on the climb, with numerous attacks in the finale. Wilco Kelderman was lively at the front and managed to get a small gap but the peloton was alert and quick to close him down. The pace then stalled before eventual stage-winner Vlasov attacked and broke clear. With the headwind on the climb, the bunch didn’t commit fully to a chase and despite Sam Oomen’s efforts at the front to set tempo, Vlasov held on for the win.

In the reduced uphill sprint between the peloton, the sprightly Kelderman showed a quick pair of heels to take the spoils and finish second on the stage. Taking some important bonus seconds, Kelderman moves into second place on GC with tomorrow’s summit finish atop the famous Mont Ventoux awaiting the peloton.

“I’m always unsure how good I will be after a high altitude training camp,” expressed Kelderman at the finish. “Today I felt good, especially on the climbs. It was a hectic day with a lot of twisty roads but we could stay together well towards the final. On the last climb I tried but Astana were just too strong in general. It’s nice to sprint to a second place, it’s a good start to the season.”

Team Sunweb coach Arjan Ribbers added: “The guys rode really well today and once again we’ve seen a strong team performance from them. With Wilco finishing second on the stage and in second place on GC, we’re in a good position for the weekend and we will fight hard to keep it that way.”

*Martijn Tusveld abandoned the race during today’s stage suffering from shoulder pain after a crash. He’s been taken to the hospital for a check-up, where he will have some scans and an x-ray. More to follow if there are updates.

Results

Pos. Rider Team Time Points
1 VLASOV Aleksandr Astana Pro Team 4:30:57 20
2 KELDERMAN Wilco Team Sunweb 0:24 10
3 LUTSENKO Alexey Astana Pro Team ,, 5
16 OOMEN Sam Team Sunweb 0:28 -
38 HIRSCHI Marc Team Sunweb 1:12 -
46 HAGA Chad Team Sunweb 1:38 -
62 DENZ Nico Team Sunweb 4:04 -
63 SALMON Martin Team Sunweb ,, -
DNF TUSVELD Martijn Team Sunweb - -