Kelderman understands Roglic AND Uijtdebroeks, but chooses interesting dual role at Visma | Lease a Bike for himself Cycling

Kelderman understands Roglic AND Uijtdebroeks, but chooses interesting dual role at Visma | Lease a Bike for himself

Kelderman understands Roglic AND Uijtdebroeks, but chooses interesting dual role at Visma | Lease a Bike for himself

Wilco Kelderman is set to start in O Gran Camiño. Together with Jonas Vingegaard and Cian Uijtdebroeks, the 32-year-old Dutchman will be heading to Spain, where he will normally fulfill the role of a domestique. After his return to Visma | Lease a Bike in 2023, this is a role he has been assigned often, and one he has gradually grown into. spoke with Kelderman at length about life as a domestique, but also about Primoz Roglic, Uijtdebroeks, BORA-hansgrohe and his ambitions to chase stage success for himself.

What is your program this year?

"I start in Gran Camiño, followed by Paris-Nice, then a high-altitude training camp, the hill classics, and the Giro d'Italia."

The Giro... The team is going there with a mindset to win stages. Do you like that?

"It's a nice challenge. A victory is something I'm still chasing, so that's a nice goal."

Is that a shift you will be making more and more in the upcoming period: from not only being solely a domestique to also chasing stage wins?

"Well, in Paris-Nice, it's definitely a goal to go for a classification. That's what suits me best. But being a domestique also suits me very well, and in a team as good as this one, with the goals we have, you really need good domestiques. I also enjoy that work, and they really appreciate it."

When you first joined this team, I spoke to you at the Tirreno, and you still had your own ambitions. Nevertheless, you've really enjoyed the domestique rol. Can you explain why?

"You win races with those guys, right? That's the best part: if you can't win the Tour de France yourself, but you can do it with Jonas (Vingegaard, ed.), then that's the highest achievement you can get. In this team, there's such a strong group spirit, the dynamics are just very good. It's super fun if you can all help Jonas achieve the Tour victory. It's not that I don't have ambitions, but there are not many races in a year where I can really chase my own success. Paris-Nice, some stages in the Giro... That's enough to aim for."

Did you expect a few years ago that you would enjoy this so much?

"Yes, yes. I know it's always been in me. I've ridden for myself for years, and I think I've gotten everything I could out of that. In this team, it's just fun to achieve these goals together."

Kelderman understands Roglic AND Uijtdebroeks, but chooses interesting dual role at Visma | Lease a Bike for himself

What do you think of Primoz Roglic's move to BORA-hansgrohe? You know that team well...

"Yes, I understand that move very well. It's a shame for us, but I completely understand Primoz. When you've been with the same team for so long, sometimes you just want something new. I get why he chose that, because in this team it's very difficult to win the Tour, for example. Jonas is very strong, and they are two slightly different types of riders. That makes it difficult to work together, and he still really has that feeling that he wants to win the Tour."

You went to BORA with the same ambitions. Did you get what you expected there?

"Well, I was at a very different stage of my career. I had just come from Sunweb, and I knew what I wanted. I was looking for a slightly looser structure, and BORA was the perfect team for that. I knew some people there, got a familiar coach, and that environment suited me very well at the time. However, if I compare that to Visma | Lease a Bike, it's different. Here, there's a lot of structure, and they pull out all the stops to get the best performance out of you. There is a difference in the structure between BORA and us."

Do you maybe need that structure more as a domestique than as a leader?

"It really depends on what you want to achieve in your career. If you're willing to make the sacrifice to get the best out of yourself with the best structure and guidance... Not everyone can handle that, that's true. The personalities we have here. Everyone wants to get the best out of themselves and works very hard at their craft. That creates that team spirit, and that's why everyone supports each other."

You were actually a part of the path that was paved for Roglic and the general classification ambitions of BORA. I can imagine you look back on that with warm feelings?

"Yes, definitely. It's nice to see, a lot has changed in terms of riders. I don't know how far they are now, but I put a lot of energy into those two years at BORA, trying to get the best out of nutrition, training, high-altitude camps... They tried to pick that up. After the Sagan era, they really wanted to go for grand tours, and they've developed that. Their dream is to win the Tour someday, and I'm curious to see if that will happen."

Kelderman understands Roglic AND Uijtdebroeks, but chooses interesting dual role at Visma | Lease a Bike for himself

How did you view the transfer of Cian Uijtdebroeks and especially all the stories that surfaced on the topic? From what I am hearing from you, you don't really recognize yourself in that...

"Everyone obviously has their own insights, and I won't comment on his findings. I had a very nice period there and have great interactions with the people. I'm very happy with my time at BORA and have nothing bad to say about it. I understand that Cian is looking for structure, and that's logical when you see this team, with its grand tour victories in a year. Then you know this team is suitable for his career."

You're going to race some events with Wout van Aert leading up the Giro. Is that different?

"I've already raced quite a bit with Wout last year, with high-altitude camps and the Tirreno. We've raced together in Switzerland and went to the Tour. So, I know Wout pretty well and I know what he wants. We match well together. I don't think we need many words to know what Wout wants. That should work out well."

Is it somewhat difficult to go to the Giro with maybe three or four guys who can win stages?

"Actually, it's not that difficult. We haven't specifically talked about who is going to do what yet. We have Olav Kooij for the sprints, Wout goes for stage wins, Cian Uijtdebroeks somewhat goes for the classification, and the rest are somewhere in between. Normally, Attila Valter and I will go for the attack in the mountains, but all that still needs to be outlined, how we're going to do it. It seems logical to me that it needs to be a good team effort to win something."

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