Wilco Kelderman spoke with his legs again in the Vuelta a Andalucia on Saturday, climbing to sixth place on the summit finish of the steep Alto de Allanadas.
The Team LottoNL-Jumbo finished sixth in Friday’s third stage, as well, but due to a crash in the first day, he is out of contention for the overall victory.
“I’d hoped to reach the level that I’m displaying here beforehand, but in a first race, you always have to wait and see,” said Kelderman.
“During the training camp in Tenerife, I already reached a reasonable level, so I expected to be with the best ten here. It’s unfortunate that the GC battle was over for me after day one. Nevertheless, today and yesterday were good tests for Paris-Nice.”
Mirko Selvaggi (Wanty Gobert) and Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin) led the 202-kilometre stage for a long time, but were caught on the final climb by Wilco Kelderman’s group. After accelerations by Sky riders Peter Kennaugh and Mikel Nieve, it was time for their captain Chris Froome to attack and challenge the overall lead of Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo).
The Brit succeeded in his mission. He won the stage with a 28 second-gap on Contador and took the red leader’s jersey from his Spanish rival.
“It was a really tough day for the riders,” said Sports Director Merijn Zeeman. “They rode 200 kilometres through rain and had to tackle 3000 metres of climbing. Everyone arrived drained at the bus, but I’m satisfied with how we did. Wilco did well again and the others did a great job protecting him until the final climb.”
Sunday’s final stage leads the pack from Montilla to Alhaurin de la Torre, an explosive finish after 171 kilometres. “There will definitely be a battle between Contador and Froome. We also have ambitions. Wilco is really motivated and Moreno Hofland wants to give it go, as well.”