After an unfortunate stage yesterday, Wilco Kelderman bounced back for Team Sunweb on stage 7 of the Vuelta to race to 9th from a select front group that formed on the day’s final climb.
An untimely mechanical on stage 6 saw the team’s GC leader lose time, but today he showed that his form is where it needs to be to fight for a strong position overall. The finale was where the action happened, but before a breakaway of seven riders spend much of the day out front before the peloton picked up the pace and brought them back in the final 20km when the rolling climbs started to take their toll.
It was not just the climbs that had an effect on the peloton, quickly thinning out under the fast pace set on the front, as several riders crashed or came off the road on the narrow Spanish roads with the fast pace. Wilco managed to stay well positioned with the help of his Team Sunweb teammates and was in the right place at the end when the splits happened.
One rider managed to clip away from the front group of around 30 riders, and Wilco’s group crossed the line fighting for second place, five seconds behind the solo winner.
After the stage, Team Sunweb coach Aike Visbeek said: “Today was a tricky final, and we knew our sole focus was the positioning and protection of Wilco. The guys did a great job towards the last climb. There were a lot of attacks in the final but the GC favourites did not give each other a lot of space. Wilco showed again that he is at the right level and he bounced back well after yesterdays disappointment.”
Wilco added: “Today went well, the guys were amazing in protecting and positioning me. In the finale I could follow with the best and the legs were good. I hope to improve further to be able to make the difference in next few weeks.”