Kelderman: I can be with the best, but I don't know if I can take time back

Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) says he's feeling strong, but it's going to be difficult for him to make up for lost time when the Vuelta a Espana hits the high mountains again this weekend.

Kelderman had been sitting in sixth overall in the early part of the race when he lost a hatful of time on stage 6 due to a mechanical problem caused when several riders crashed on a tight bend inside the final 20 kilometres. Though he was able to claw back few seconds on Sunday's Covatilla stage, he is still in 14th at 1:50 back and says that it's going to be difficult to bridge that gap.

"I don't know. All the favourites are good so it's not so easy to gain some time back but we will see. I feel good and for sure I can be with the best, but I don't know if I can take some time back," he told Cyclingnews at the finish of stage 11.

After a slightly more relaxed opening to week two, the Vuelta a Espana ramped up the action again on Wednesday. Though there were few real gaps between the overall contenders, it was a day that did not relent for anyone in the peloton. It took almost half the stage – the longest in the entire race – for the breakaway to make it clear. With the presence of Thibaut Pinot in the move, the GC contenders had to be on full alert.

"I think they went after 100k or something. It was a crazy stage and also the roads were bumpy, they were left right and always up and down. So, it was never really easy, but for me, it was a really good day. I felt really good today. It was a nice stage," explained Kelderman. "Pinot is still quite close and also a good rider. He's also a favourite for the podium. It was a hard day."

Thursday's stage 12 to Faro de Estaca de Bares will likely favour the Peter Sagan's of this world and shouldn't shake up the overall classification. The GC riders will instead be thinking about the brutal run of summit finishes that will bring to an end the second week of racing. It will start on Friday with a 174km stage to La Camperona, followed a similarly distanced run to Praeres the next day. The week will conclude with the formidable Lagos de Covadonga, which will feature 3,940 metres of climbing.

"Especially Sunday will be a really hard day and I think that will be the real difference and the gaps will be much bigger," said Kelderman. "Now it's already hard and tomorrow also will be a pretty hard final and then we have La Camperona and the steep climbs over two days and then Lagos de Covadonga. So, I think then the race will be pretty hard."

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Born in Ireland to a cycling family and later moved to the Isle of Man, so there was no surprise when I got into the sport. Studied sports journalism at university before going on to do a Masters in sports broadcast. After university I spent three months interning at Eurosport, where I covered the Tour de France. In 2012 I started at Procycling Magazine, before becoming the deputy editor of Procycling Week. I then joined Cyclingnews, in December 2013.