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Wilco Kelderman sets sights on run at Tour de France podium

Dutch all-rounder says he is 'ready' for Tour de France challenge in move to Bora-Hansgrohe.

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Wilco Kelderman is hoping his move to Bora-Hansgrohe will open the door for a run at the Tour de France podium in 2021.

Following a breakthrough career-first podium with third in the 2020 Giro d’Italia, the Dutch all-rounder is targeting a top-5 at the Tour, and perhaps even more.

“The Tour de France is on my mind,” Kelderman said. “This year there are more time trials, and the profile really suits me. There is a good chance that the Tour is on the list this year. I am really looking forward to going for that challenge.”

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Kelderman is confirmed for Bora-Hansgrohe’s 14-rider “long list” for the Tour. The team has already stated that one of its goals is to hit the podium in one of the season’s three grand tours. Emmanuel Buchmann, who was fourth in the 2019 Tour, has hinted he might race the Giro d’Italia this season, opening the door for Kelderman to have a clear runway for GC leadership.

“I am going to work super hard to be in the best shape for the Tour,” Kelderman said. “We also have some different goals in the Tour. We will be there with a strong team. If I am good, a top spot in the GC would be possible.”

Bora-Hansgrohe is stacked with talent for 2021, including perennial green jersey favorite Peter Sagan as well as rising sprinter Pascal Ackermann, and stage-hunters Lennard Kämna and Max Schachmann.

Kelderman, who left Sunweb at the end of last year following a sometimes tumultuous relationship with team management that overflowed during the 2020 Giro, said he’s already feeling good at Bora-Hansgrohe.

“Last year, we had some talks, and Bora was interested,” he said. “I talked with [team manager Ralph] Denk, and with one of the trainers, and everything was really good and positive. I immediately had a good feeling with them. It’s a team that fits with how I race and how it’s organized.

“There are older riders on this team. Sunweb sometimes felt like a development team,” Kelderman said. “I don’t want to say anything bad about Sunweb, because they are a great team, but when you a bit older, you know what you have to do. It’s good to have a more relaxed relationship with your coaches. At Sunweb, it was more like a development style, more fixed. Here it is more cooperation with different persons.”

Kelderman, 29, has emerged as a consistent grand tour rider over the past few seasons, with three top-10s in the Giro and Vuelta a España, capped by his first grand tour podium with third in the Giro in October. In three Tour starts, however, he’s never finished in the top-20, with 32nd in 2016.

The Dutchman said he’s relishing the chance to have a solid run at the Tour, and he believes the diversity of the team, which might or might not include Sagan in 2021, will give him the support he needs.

“The Tour is always stressful. It’s the biggest race, so it’s more stressful than any other grand tour,” he said. “I did some other grand tours with GC, this is a great opportunity to try for the Tour. I also think I am ready to go for it. I am looking forward to it.”

Preliminary calendar for 2021

  • Volta a Valenciana
  • Vuelta a Murcia
  • UAE Tour
  • Itzulia Basque Country
  • Amstel Gold Race
  • Liège-Bastogne-Liège
  • Tour de Romandie
  • Tour de France (long list)