The 25-year-old finished just behind Team Sky’s Mikel Landa and has moved up to second overall, one second off Landa's lead as a result. Kelderman has had a consistent start to the season, finishing fourth overall in the Ruta del Sol and 13th in Paris-Nice.
Both he and Landa attacked on in the final climb on stage 2 in Pais Vasco, and the pair held off a late charge from a group of favourites including Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar). Second place for Kelderman came after his teammates set him up for his attack.
“It was a very tough stage,” Kelderman said in a statement issued by his team after the stage.
“It was raining and we were riding on a plateau, so it was extra cold. Victor Campenaerts crashed in the beginning of the stage and I fell over him. That was annoying, but it didn’t change my goal. The final climb was steep, so I wanted to set my own pace, and I did. When Landa took the lead, I had to push myself immediately. He was a little stronger than me, unfortunately, but we did a good job as a team.”
Kelderman was not aiming for the GC at the start of the race but the team’s DS, Addy Engels, believes that the rider’s focus will now change.
“We know now that two of our riders are with the best, so we have to build our tactics with that in mind,” Engels said, highlighting that Robert Gesink is ninth, 15 seconds off Landa’s lead.
“If you’re able to deliver this today, that means that you will be able to compete for a good result in the general classification, as well. It would be weird to say that Wilco isn’t looking for that. He has to keep on riding the way he does because that aggressive mindset works the best for him at the moment.”