After last year’s washout at the Tour de France, in which he crashed several times and limped to Paris, Wilco Kelderman (LottoNL-Jumbo) is not about to put any undue pressure on his shoulders ahead of this year’s race.
The 25-year-old was a genuine top-ten contender last year after a consistent build-up in the months leading to the race and having won the Dutch national time trial title in the weeks before the Grand Départ in his homeland. This year he heads into the race with far less expectancy around him, although his condition and form means that he can’t be ignored.
“My form is really good and I’m feeling in shape given how I was at Tour de Suisse,” he told Cyclingnews on the eve of the Tour. He finished 8th overall in his final warm-up race, even leading in Switzerland before a crash halted his progress.
“I see this as a new Tour,” he said, full of optimism.
“Last year wasn’t good for me but this is something totally new. When I stay fit, and I don’t crash, then I have opportunities. I’m not specifically looking at the general classification but we’ll see what happens after a couple of stages and what’s possible.”
The former top-ten finisher in the Giro d’Italia has already previewed the opening two stages of this year’s race. The first stage is destined to end in a bunch sprint but the uphill finish on stage 2 will pose questions for any rider with overall responsibilities.
“We did the first half of the first stage but that’s one for the sprinters and then stage 2 we’ll see what’s possible. The first stage will be controlled by the sprinters’ teams,” Kelderman said, suggesting that he would ride as close to the front on the following day.
The Dutch rider, like his teammate Steven Kruijswijk, is out of contract at the end of 2016 and several teams have shown an interest in signing him, though Kelderman said that any talk of new teams would wait for the time being.
“I don’t know the future yet. We’ll see after the Tour.”