Kelderman the next Dutch climbing sensation

Wilco Kelderman (Rabobank Continental) heads on stage.

Wilco Kelderman (Rabobank Continental) heads on stage. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)

Wilco Kelderman is the next wonder to emerge from the Rabobank Continental team. The Dutchman, only 20 years old, took the overall victory in the Tour of Norway this weekend, and is now looking forward to tackling the high mountains in upcoming races.

Kelderman is in his second year with the Dutch team, and has already signed to ride for the Rabobank ProTeam next year. He didn't win any stages in Norway, but finished no lower than 10th on any of the stages. He took over the race lead on the second stage.

"I felt strong today, but I also think that the team has made a solid effort. It was tough to keep the jersey. It's an incredible feeling. I have fought hard for the past three days," Kelderman told after the race.

He is an acknowledged climber, but that is not all. Directeur Sportif Arthur van Dongen calls him the complete all-rounder. “There is no doubt that he is a great talent. I would compare him to Lars Boom and Edvald Boasson Hagen. Wilco is a very strong all-rounder. He is doing well in the climbs and is a highly skilled time trialist.”

Van Dongen has the highest expectations for his protégé. “Lars Boom won the prologue the Critérium du Dauphiné today. Next year, Wilco will do the same.”

Kelderman himself remains more modest about his future. “I certainly want to try myself in a race like Critérium du Dauphiné and the Tour de Suisse next year,” he said. “I don't think I'll ride the Giro d'Italia or Tour de France for two or three years yet.”

It hasn't been an easy year for the young rider. He broke a collarbone early in the season, and then crashed again in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. That left him back problems which have only recently cleared up. “Actually it has only been well again since two weeks,” he said on the Rabobank website.

The Tour of Norway featured few long climbs. “It was a nice race, but not higher than 500 meters. Bit like the Ardennes. I'm really looking forward to high mountain passes. That's my field.”

This summer he will take on the Tour de l'Ain and the Tour Alsace. Last year he won the Ballon d'Alsace stage in the latter Tour, on his way to the overall title. “That was a great experience.”

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