Kelderman to head up trident of Bora-Hansgrohe leaders for Giro d'Italia
Dutchman says 'I didn't enjoy the Tour so much' as he looks ahead to Giro return
Wilco Kelderman will head up a trident of leaders for Bora-Hansgrohe at the Giro d'Italia as the German squad aim for the podium – or better – in May.
The Dutchman will be accompanied by Jai Hindley and Emanuel Buchmann in May as the team send what will be among the strongest GC squads in the peloton to the race.
Kelderman finished third in 2020 with DSM, one place behind his teammate Hindley as the duo were beaten by Ineos Grenadiers' Tao Geoghegan Hart in the final days of the October edition of the Grand Tour, rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking from Bora-Hansgrohe's pre-season training camp in Spain, Kelderman – who finished fifth at last year's Tour de France – said that he was excited to return to the Giro next year, especially as part of such a strong group.
"I'm super excited. I was also thinking during this off-season what is my motivation and what do I want to go for next season and one of the things I really get motivated for was doing the Giro again," he said.
"Now the team is with three captains I think it's perfect. I rode already with Jai like that, and I have a good relationship with Emanuel. We're going to do it in the best way with a strong climber team and a big goal. I'm really excited to be part of this project."
Kelderman pointed to the past success of working together with Hindley in 2020 as a reason they can succeed this year. Buchmann, meanwhile, has a fourth place in the Tour to his name and last year held sixth overall at the Giro before being forced to abandon the race due to a mass crash on stage 15.
"I think that if you look to the past, then yes, me and Jai were already on the podium. I think we showed that we could be up there in the Giro. We showed that the podium is one of the goals and for sure we'll try to go for the victory. It will be hard, but I think the main focus is to be on the podium in the Giro."
Kelderman indicated that he felt that his performance in the 2021 Tour, where he rode to a solid fifth place, albeit 10 minutes down on winner Tadej Pogačar, was about the limit of what he could achieve there.
He noted that the Giro suits him better for a variety of reasons, as well as adding that it would be hard for Bora-Hansgrohe to fight for a GC podium while also supporting returning sprinter Sam Bennett in the quest for sprint wins and a second green jersey.
"For me personally, I wasn't really motivated to do the Tour because last year I was fifth but I didn't enjoy it so much – I was just following, and I wasn't good enough to really compete with the best," Kelderman said.
"So I like a race like the Giro which is a little bit less stressful and a bit colder with more mountain stages. The way we work in the team we have Sam, a good sprinter, who can win the green jersey in the Tour. So, you have to divide the team a bit in Grand Tours – you can't say you want a podium spot and the green jersey – that's almost not possible anymore. You need to make choices."
Kelderman, who turns 31 in March, didn't add to his five professional victories last year but still enjoyed another solid campaign in what was his first season at the team. As well as his career-best Tour finish, he took fourth at the Critérium du Dauphiné, fifth at the Volta a Catalunya and 10th at the Tour de Romandie.
It came to a premature end on September 1, though, when he crashed out of the Benelux Tour on the third stage. With a fractured pelvis and broken ribs, his season was over, and what lay in wait was an off-season he would describe as "horrible". That was only made worse by a previously undiscovered broken bone in his hand, which provided a further setback over the winter.
"I'm fine now actually. I'm pretty good in my zone and I'm happy to work hard," he said. "I can say that my off-season was horrible and super hard. It wasn't only my hip – I was quite quickly recovered from that.
"But we found out when I started training that I still had a fracture in my left hand that was not healing as well or it was difficult to heal. I couldn't train with my hand, so it was another six weeks easy. It was another setback. So, I needed surgery for that, and it took a long time to recover. Anyway, I started not so long ago on the bike, but I feel amazingly good actually."
Now all healed up from his list of injuries, Kelderman is set to kick off his season with a stage race-heavy programme and no Classics on the menu. A season debut at the early February Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana will be followed by the Vuelta a Andalucía and then Tirreno-Adriatico.
Then comes a three-week altitude camp and the Tour of the Alps before he and the rest of the Bora-Hansgrohe riders take on the Giro.
Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*
Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets
After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59
Join now for unlimited access
Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Get The Leadout Newsletter
The latest race content, interviews, features, reviews and expert buying guides, direct to your inbox!
Daniel Ostanek is production editor at Cyclingnews, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later being hired as staff writer. Prior to joining the team, he had written for most major publications in the cycling world, including CyclingWeekly, Rouleur, and CyclingTips.
Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France and the spring Classics, and has interviewed many of the sport's biggest stars, including Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Demi Vollering, and Anna van der Breggen.
As well as original reporting, news and feature writing, and production work, Daniel also runs The Leadout newsletter and oversees How to Watch guides throughout the season. His favourite races are Strade Bianche and the Volta a Portugal, and he rides a Colnago C40.