Team Sunweb wrapped up a successful week at the Abu Dhabi Tour Sunday with Dutchman Wilco Kelderman riding aggressively on the final stage to score a podium finish in the five-day WorldTour race in the Gulf Region.
Showing strong climbing form on his TCR Advanced SL team bike, Kelderman finished fifth in the 199km stage from Al Ain to a summit finish at Jabel Hafeet. Riding with the leaders on the final climb, he moved up to second overall in the general classification, 17 seconds behind overall winner Alejandro Valverde.
“I was in a really good position at the beginning of the stage and we tried to make the best out of it,” said Kelderman, who came into stage sitting fifth overall after a strong fifth-place finish in the previous day’s time trial on his Trinity Advanced Pro TT bike. “The day went really well and me and Tom [Dumoulin] were going good on the last climb. He had a mechanical problem and needed to change bikes, so I continued and rode my own race. I paced myself up the climb and in the end the result is pretty good. I’m happy with where I’m at and my performance here.”
Recognizing Kelderman’s strong early-season form, the team selected Kelderman as its designated leader for the final stage. The plan was for Kelderman and his teammate Dumoulin, the defending Giro d’Italia champion, to fight for the selection on the tough final climb, a 10.8km ascent with steep grades of 11 percent.
“Wilco felt good today so we chose to bring him into a good position to the climb,” said Sunweb team coach Aike Visbeek. “Tom paced for Wilco really well but suffered a mechanical, so we did not have him to help Wilco in the last kilometer. Wilco rode a really strong climb and did a good job to take fifth and finish second overall. The team did a great job all week—we’ve shown that we have a good level and can look forward to the next races.”
In addition to Kelderman’s podium, the team also took home a stage win with sprinter Phil Bauhaus’s impressive victory in Stage 3.