Wilco Kelderman was first home for Team Sunweb on stage 4 of La Vuelta a España, the race’s first mountain-top finish, finishing in the main GC group 3’15” behind the day’s breakaway that survived to take the stage.
The stage presented the first real finishing climb of the race after a shorter test on stage 2, with over 10km climbing to the finish in Alfacar. It did not take long for the day’s breakaway to form, with nine riders pulling clear and building a strong advantage. Nine would prove to be too many for the peloton to reel back in before the finish, and the escapees still held over eight minutes as they headed to the lower slopes of the final climb.
The peloton picked up the pace behind as the GC riders came to the fore, but it was too late for any sort of catch, and the break fought out the stage, while behind the attacks flew and the fight for the red jersey ignited. Two riders sat close to Wilco on GC managed to gain time on the main GC group by the finish, seeing him drop from 3rd to 5th overall, but the time gaps remain small, at just 25 seconds between Team Sunweb’s GC leader and the red jersey.
Wilco said after warming down at the finish: “It was an explosive final, and I’m happy I was with the first group. I’m lacking a bit of race rhythm for finals like this, but I was up there and that is what counts.”
Team Sunweb coach Aike Visbeek added: “It was a hard day under hot conditions. The guys did a good job and the first real test for Wilco in the mountains went well. We still have to focus to grow further in to this race. The guys were in position at the important moments, and Wilco was well protected until the race exploded on the final climb.”