A new jersey, a new bike and a new set of objectives for any rider can do wonders, and although Wilco Kelderman could not come away with the glory on stage 2 of the Tour Down Under, the sight of him attacking on the final climb was enough to unearth shoots of growth as the Dutchman looks to restart his career at Sunweb.
Kelderman has suffered since a breakthrough season that saw him claim fourth in the Dauphine and seventh in a super tough Giro d'Italia. Crashes in form and confidence took their toll in the years since and the consensus within the Dutch media was that he needed a change of scene.
"I wanted to go for the victory and not wait," he told Cyclingnews at the end of stage 2.
Kelderman was the first rider to attack on the final climb of the day, grinding away from his rivals as the gradient started to creep skywards. Richie Porte used the Dutchman to slingshot clear before Kelderman tightened up and finished in the next group of favourites in 18th place. No victory but the willingness to attack was there to see.
"The team did a really good job to protect me all day. When the climb started I was at the front. I followed Richie and then went over him but he followed me and I couldn't go again. He was way better and I was full of lactate. I almost couldn't pedal anymore. Then I came back and finished with the group behind.
"It was a good first hard stage," he said between swigs of water.
Kelderman lies in 13th overall but the stage to Willunga Hill will decide the final podium. Porte looks to have the race under control but the final two places on the podium are still up for grabs.
"It gave me confidence for the other stages. We need to make a plan and we'll see. Willunga is a little bit longer but it's hard to say if it suits me better," he added.
"I hope I have more success next time. Willunga is only a few days away. Maybe I need a bit more luck but Richie was really strong today. He was a better class today. We try again at Willunga. There are other good riders and more can fight for the podium. We'll see in the next few days."
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