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"Am I a favourite myself after today? Hard to say. I have a very strong team, but guys like Van Avermaet and Gilbert get into the top-ten of almost every classic. I only managed that once."

Photo: A.S.O.






14.08.2015 @ 20:34 Posted by Andy Pedersen

Wilco Kelderman swapped out the overall lead in the Eneco Tour on Friday with Team LottoNL-Jumbo team-mate Jos van Emden in a tough stage over the hills in Dutch Limburg. Van Emden led the race after his victory in Thursday’s time trial in Hoogerheide.


FDJ’s Johan Le Bon won the stage out of a breakaway formed with Dylan van Baarle (Cannondale-Garmin) that made it to the line in Sittard-Geleen. In the closing moments of the race, Kelderman hunted down the two leaders with a small counter-attack. He managed to limit the time loss to nine seconds, just enough to take the lead. The difference with Van Baarle, who slots into second overall, is only one second.


“It was a successful day,” Kelderman concluded. “I’m pleased that the leader’s jersey remained within the team. I’m in white now, which is a nice boost. As a team we will defend the jersey over the coming days as a team. The final stages suit me, but there are a lot of strong riders here. We’ll try our best. It’s going to be hard. Anything could happen.”


Rain created messy conditions in the stage, and when water started pouring down, the race exploded. Kelderman saw an opportunity, and took it.


“When we started the local laps, it began to rain and it got hectic. Ultimately, the chase never really got on, and when Wellens and Greipel went, two strong riders, I knew I had to jump. It proved to be a good move.


"In circumstances like these you know a small group can stay up front. When Wellens closed the gap to Greipel, I knew I had to follow them. It proved to be the right move. I'm happy we keep the jersey in our team."


"Am I a favourite myself after today? Hard to say. I have a very strong team, but guys like Van Avermaet and Gilbert get into the top-ten of almost every classic. I only managed that once. Van Baarle is very strong as well. I'm sure he will be there at the end."


"The final stages should should suit me. Even the final stage with the Muur. If I can keep my lead tomorrow I have a good chance. I've got a lot of confidence.


"People underestimate this race, I think it's on par with Paris-Nice. This is simply a fantastic race with real racing. Sort out your tactics and attack, that's what this race is about."


Sports Director Nico Verhoeven complimented Kelderman with his move.


“As we were the leader’s team, we led the chase for a long time. When it started raining it became a different race, several riders started believing they had a chance. Wilco’s move was what we needed; he saved the jersey. He perfectly knew what to do. Moreover, he took time on some rivals.”


Jos van Emden lost the white jersey in Sittard-Geleen, but nevertheless looked back on a great day.


“I’ve enjoyed it. The start was three kilometres from my home in Veldwezelt, and so the local fan club showed up this morning. The fact that I’ve lost the jersey does not feel like losing. I would have liked to wear it another day, but this is fine. I fought for what I was worth and the jersey is still with the team. It was a beautiful day.”


Van Emden praised the teamwork during the stage.


“My team-mates surrounded me all day long. In the finale, when Wilco was gone, I tried to shut down the chase, which worked. I was strong uphill and able to counter attacks from some of Wilco’s competitors .”



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