Team Sunweb rider Wilco Kelderman came on strong in the final week of the Vuelta a España, showing impressive climbing form to earn a hard-fought top-10 general classification result.
The 27-year-old Dutchman led a young squad that had four riders—Max Walscheid, Jai Hindley, Michael Storer and Martijn Tusveld—all starting and finishing their first grand tour.
“I’m happy to finish this grand tour with such a good feeling,” said Kelderman after Sunday’s final stage in Madrid. “It’s been a hard season but to manage to be here with a really good result is great. We did it really well, together with seven riders finishing. For the young guys to finish this grand tour it’s a real step up for next year. I think we learned a lot as a team here in Spain and we can keep building on this.”
Kelderman, who missed the Tour de France in July due to a shoulder injury, had his work cut out for him at the grueling three-week tour through Spain. During the first week he got caught in a crash on Stage 6, which caused him to lose nearly 2 minutes in the general classification. That dropped him down to 17th in the GC, and he spent the next two weeks fighting his way back.
With the help of his teammates, Kelderman steadily moved back up, showing impressive form in the mountains on his TCR Advanced SL team bike. He continued to get stronger as the race went on, riding with the top contenders and posting a number of top-10 stage finishes.
The final week featured three consecutive days of tough mountain stages, and Kelderman rose to the occasion, racing aggressively and finishing 10thoverall in the end.
“The team showed great character here in Spain,” said Team Sunweb coach Aike Visbeek. “We had our fair share of setbacks and crashes. We’re happy that we could finish it off with a top-10 in GC and that our four debutants could improve and develop. We had our best day when it mattered most during [Stage 20] when it all got decided. We’re proud of the riders and staff for pulling this off, it’s a good end to our grand tour season.”