Wilco Kelderman was forced to abandon the Tour of Guangxi during stage 4 on Sunday after going down in a crash near the bottom of the final climb with about 5km to go. The Team Sunweb GC rider was positioning for the summit finish when he went down in a group that included teammates Albert Timmer and Max Walscheid. Although the two other Sunweb riders were able to continue, Kelderman was not able to go on.
"Wilco has sustained a large laceration and a deep cut to his underarm, which will require stitches," said Anko Boelens, Team Sunweb's physician. "He is currently receiving treatment and will undergo further check-ups when he is back at home. An injury of this nature should take around two weeks to heal."
The 151km stage from Nanning to NongLa Scenic Spot promised to shake up the general classification after three days of domination by sprinter Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors), and things played out as expected when Sunweb's Lennard Hofstede infiltrated a four-rider break that escaped early in the day. The bunch reeled in the escapees with 6km to go, and the fight for position ahead of the final climb was on.
With 5km to go wheels got tangled and riders hit the deck, with Astana's Jakob Fuglsang among those on the ground. Kelderman quickly determined he couldn't continue.
"We had a good day with Lennard in the breakaway," said Team Sunweb coach Arthur van Dongen. "Unfortunately, with one kilometre to the final climb there was a crash in the bunch which brought down a lot of riders. Max and Albert were able to finish, but Wilco was forced to abandon due to his injuries."
Sunweb is now down to just four riders after Michael Matthews failed to start stage 4, citing illness. Van Dongen said the team will focus its efforts on putting sprinter Walscheid across the line first in the remaining stages.
"With Wilco out of the race we will now focus our efforts on the remaining stages with Max," he said. "He has shown some great form this week, and we will continue to explore the possibilities for more nice results."
The six-day race concludes Tuesday with a 168km stage in Guilin. Monday's 212km penultimate stage from Liuzhou to Guilin includes a series of climbs in the latter half that should test the riders' legs, but Tuesday's circuit looks destined to end with a sprint.