Race report

Wilco Kelderman moves up on GC after difficult Vuelta stage

Vuelta a España

Stage 15 at the Vuelta saw the riders faced with a brutally tough stage in the saddle, with 4000 metres of altitude gain and four first category climbs to contend with. A flurry attacks at the start of the stage were closed down before a group of five was able to establish itself at the front of the race, with Casper Pedersen riding strongly to be there for the team.

However, a few of the GC teams were not happy with the composition of the group out front and set a ferocious tempo at the head of the peloton on the opening climb. Pedersen was eventually reeled in by the peloton as a new breakaway of 17 riders formed at the head of the race.

Proceedings then calmed down and those dropped on the opening ascent were able to get back to the bunch. From that point the race remained in status quo, with the breakaway group maintaining a five minute lead over the peloton as the last, difficult climb of the day began. Robert Power did a good job at the front to help position Wilco Kelderman, before the GC fireworks started with over five kilometres to go as some riders launched attacks. Kelderman maintained his own rhythm, digging deep and riding a steady tempo up the steep ramps and all the way to the line.

As a result of today’s time gaps, Kelderman moves up one place on GC into eighth, with another difficult mountain stage ahead of the riders tomorrow.

“It was a good day for us, Casper was in the early break before the first climb,” explained Kelderman at the finish. “After that there were a lot of guys in front, so it was controlled in the peloton and the guys did a good job to look after me. On the last climb the guys put me into a perfect position, with Rob able to help me on the lower slopes. It was hard on the climb with the wind, so it was difficult to try and drop the guys close to me; on the road and on GC. Overall it was a good day and after yesterday’s crash I felt good, so I’m happy.”

Team Sunweb coach Luke Roberts added: “Today we saw some fireworks on the first of the four category one climbs, with Movistar wanting to open the race up. Eventually a group of 17 went away and the bunch settled down. We had our guys around Wilco to protect him as far as possible and they led him well into the final climb. Wilco has done a pretty solid final climb, taking time on those around him on GC and he has even moved up a place. It’s a solid day from us on the first of two consecutive very hard days, so hopefully tomorrow we can again have a good stage.”