Race report

Kelderman retains GC position after late puncture

Vuelta a España

A late puncture in the final kilometres wasn’t enough to derail Wilco Kelderman’s top ten general classification ambitions, thanks to the quick reactions of his Team Sunweb teammates.

With just 13 kilometres remaining on stage 16 of the Vuelta a España, and as the peloton were on the final Hors Category climb of the day, Kelderman suffered a rear wheel puncture.

Michael Storer quickly stopped to help pace him back to the peloton, before Martijn Tusveld finished off the job, returning the Dutchman to the back of the general classification group.

Kelderman had little time to recover before the constant attacks so close to the finish proved too much.

Riding his own pace for the final two kilometres to the summit, he limited his losses and ensured eighth place overall was safe for another day.

The 144 kilometre stage from Pravia to Alto de La Cubilla. Lena. began at a blistering pace, as every team tried to put a rider in the day’s breakaway.

After 12 kilometres of racing, Casper Pedersen found himself in a four-man escape, but it wasn’t long before the quartet were reeled in by an enthusiastic peloton.

With the road continuing to go uphill, Nikias Arndt joined a large chase group who set off in pursuit of a new leading four.

Behind, the peloton began thinning dramatically on the first Category 1 climb of the day.

Arndt’s group quickly merged with the leaders to make a strong 16-man break with 90 kilometres remaining.

The group’s advantage continued to grow as the activity in the peloton steadied.

As the leaders hit the second category 1 climb, the attacks for the mountain classification points proved too much for Arndt as he and a few others lost contact with the leaders.

The remainder of the breakaway went on to contest the stage win, just a few minutes ahead of Kelderman.

“Wilco punctured at a really bad moment at the bottom of the final climb, once he had the wheel changed I paced him as best I could back to the peloton, or what was left of it. Then Martijn took over and brought him back in position, really unfortunate timing as the day had gone well until then,” said Michael Storer.

Team Sunweb coach Luke Roberts explained:“The stage today finished with an 18km final climb, and we wanted to get Wilco as fast as possible to the finish. Unfortunately he had a puncture at the bottom of the last climb, and it took quite an effort to recover from that and get back to the peloton. Over the top of the climb, he paid a bit for the effort there and couldn’t finish off the climb as well as we hoped, but it’s still a solid ride.”