At the first real GC battle of the Vuelta, Wilco Kelderman finished stage nine in 6th place after playing an active role in the finale.
An 11 man group jumped ahead of the peloton in the first 10 kilometres of racing, with a large chasing group quickly pegged back by the peloton. Initially the bunch kept them within reach, but later granted them more freedom as their lead stretched out to just under 10 minutes.
Team Sunweb’s Wilco Kelderman stayed well protected by the team in the peloton throughout the day and heading into good position ahead of the final climb to the line, he still had Simon Geschke for company. The breakaway fractured on La Covatilla but not enough to spoil their chances for victory, with one rider going solo to take the stage honours.
Behind the breakaway Wilco ignited the GC battle, attacking in the final kilometre. He was able to follow reduced group of five GC riders and open up gaps over his other rivals. He finishes stage nine in 6th place ahead of tomorrow’s rest day.
Wilco said: “At the beginning of the climb I wasn’t feeling that good. The wind was strong so I tried to take it a little bit easy – attacking early wasn’t really an option. I found a good moment so I tried it and we managed to get a gap, it was good to gain some time. I lost a lot of time the other day, but it’s still quite early in the Vuelta so we’ll see next week. I hadn’t raced for a long time before the Vuelta but now everyday I feel like I’m getting better.”
Team Sunweb coach Aike Visbeek added: “Today was a hard mountain stage with classical finish on La Covatilla. The whole team were focused on Wilco, the teamwork was good and he was well protected and positioned throughout the whole day. Wilco bounced back with a strong performance with a well timed late attack in the last two kilometres which meant that he took some time back on some GC contenders – I think this will give him a boost of confidence which is good. We have to keep looking for opportunities further on in this race but we are proud of the guys so far. We’ve had some crashes and setbacks but we are here with eight guys making it to the rest day and we are still growing in the race.”