Saturday's stage 4 at Tirreno-Adriatico was a day of mixed fortunes for Team Sunweb after Tom Dumoulin's miserable season continued with a crash and abandonment before Wilco Kelderman shone through with a determined ride to Sassotetto that moved him within 11 seconds of the leader's jersey.
Keldermann finished eighth on the stage, six seconds down on winner Mikel Landa (Movistar), but the result moved him up to third overall after Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing) inherited the leader's jersey from Geraint Thomas (Team Sky).
With three days to go – and two of them set to alter the GC – Kelderman and his team find themselves in contention for the overall, and the podium at the very least. With just three riders left in the race – including Kelderman – resource management will be crucial.
"We are lucky that BMC are in the lead and it's 11 seconds," said director Marc Reef. "For them everything is still possible. We have to see what happens tomorrow and it's not an easy finish. Then we have a flat stage, and then it's the TT. If we have the same gaps before the time trial, then for sure Wilco is one of the contenders."
Kelderman came into Tirreno-Adriatico on the back of a fine second place at the Abu Dhabi Tour. While Dumoulin has struggled with health issues in the last few weeks, and then crashed out today, Kelderman has gone about his business diligently.
He was barely visible in the lead group on Saturday but never let the wheels slip when his rivals began attacking. Such an approach during a hectic stage certainly paid off. With Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) sitting second overall at one second, and 11 riders still within 45 seconds of the race lead, everything is still to play for.
"He had good results in Abu Dhabi, and he showed there that he was one of the strongest when going uphill," Reef said. "It was possible that he had this level, but we started the year with Tom as our main guy. He was unlucky this week, but we still have Wilco on GC. That's nice and something to focus on with the guys that we still have here. He's one of the favourites. I don't know what Caruso can do in a short time trial like that. Eleven seconds is still a gap, but everything is possible."
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