Wilco Kelderman returns after three months: "I really need that race toughness!" Cycling

Wilco Kelderman returns after three months: "I really need that race toughness!"

Wilco Kelderman returns after three months: "I really need that race toughness!"

Wilco Kelderman showcased his readiness for a possible Tour de France spot this Saturday in Villars-sur-Ollon. Competing for Visma | Lease a Bike, the Dutch cyclist kept pace with the formidable UAE-Team Emirates duo, Joao Almeida and Adam Yates, on the final climb, ultimately clinching an impressive fourth place. In an interview with IDLProCycling.com, Kelderman shared his journey back to racing.

Kelderman had been out of the racing scene due to a severe crash in the final stage of Paris-Nice in early March, which resulted in a collarbone fracture, sidelining him from the Giro d'Italia. "It was a tough fracture, right at the end of the bone," he recounted. "I managed to start training again after a few weeks, but couldn't get into proper shape in time. Then we took the time to get back into competitione," Kelderman explained.

As we've come to expect from him, he was immediately back in form after three months of absence "It was a long period. Maybe I could have raced in Norway like Wout van Aert, but I chose to do an altitude camp with the group and then start here. It went well at altitude, I was able to participate fully."

Kelderman really "needed some race toughness"

In Switzerland, he also performed well right from the start. Kelderman finished eleventh in the prologue and navigated through several good results in the punchy stages to a strong position in the mountains, where he also held his ground again. "It's going well. The form is there, but of course, I haven't competed in a long time. It took some getting used to, especially since this is a tough race with many mountain stages back-to-back."

"So I'm fine, but I still need some race toughness," Kelderman pointed out. "My body wasn't used to it, and of course, UAE-Team Emirates doesn't make it easy for us, they're very strong. I'm quite impressed by them, wow. Yates and Almeida, the way they ride..."

But he can also be impressed with himself. With his fourth place in Villars-sur-Ollon, he once again showcased himself for the Tour de France. "I don't know yet. It depends on what they decide, whether Jonas is fit enough to go to the Tour. The same applies to Wout, but I think they are on the right track," said Kelderman, who sympathizes with his teammates. "It's just sheer bad luck. Especially for Steven, it's really unfortunate. He has so often been unable to show his good preparation for the Tour."

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Wilco Kelderman returns after three months: "I really need that race toughness!"

Reef: "Kelderman had one bad moment and that was it"

Team Director Marc Reef was pleased with his team's performance, noting, "We supported Wilco well. It's possible that the crash affected him because he wasn't great the next day. Now he's ridden a very good race and was able to keep up when Almeida, Yates, and Riccitello made their move. But a fourth place is a nice result," he explained in Villar-sur-Ollon to IDLProCycling.com. "UAE is showing a high level, but Wilco is also in good form. He just had one bad moment, and that was it."

Lastly, we looked back on the crash on day four, with the rider himself and the team director of Visma | Lease a Bike. The crash possibly cost Kelderman the leader's jersey. How did he experience it himself? "Isaac Del Toro looked back and ran into the rear wheel of Yates, and I was right behind him. Then I crashed and I definitely thought: damn it. I tried to come back and even thought about giving up, but decided to keep riding anyway. Ultimately, it turned out pretty well."

Reef shared this view. "It was a very unfortunate situation. Del Toro came back a bit sooner than Kelderman and I think they had already planned that move because I don’t think they wanted to push on since Wilco had fallen behind," said the sports director. "In the end, it was a race situation that didn’t work out well for us, but on the other hand, they could have waited for Wilco and then it would have been a fair race again. However, we shouldn't make too much of a fuss about it," Reef concluded.

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