CyclingPub Interview - Wilco Kelderman: My daughter got me through a hard period
Feb 20 2020 11:37 pm CET

CyclingPub Interview - Wilco Kelderman: My daughter got me through a hard period
CyclingPub Interview - Wilco Kelderman: My daughter got me through a hard period
Photo of Wilco Kelderman (c)Jonathan Roorda-CyclingPub

Wilco Kelderman is set to continue his season at the UAE Tour after finishing in the fifth position of the Tour de la Provence in a year in which he expects to get good results after a heavy period of his life due to injuries.

The 2019 season was not what Kelderman was expecting at the start of the year. The Dutchman was expected to be one of Tom Dumoulin's helpers at the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France but he crashed out of the Volta a Catalunya with fractures in the collarbone and in the neck vertebrae that left him off the road for a while.

Kelderman was not new to heavy crashes but to be out of racing for so long took a toll on his body and mind, but the silver lining was that he could spend more time with his newborn, who has brought a new batch of motivation to his life. After finishing his 2019 on a high note with a top-ten overall result at the Vuelta a España, he is now ready for the challenges of the 2020 season, including the Giro d'Italia, Olympics and World Championships.

Wilco Kelderman - Team Sunweb

I met with a very relaxed and open Kelderman, which showed as he took off his shoes before the interview as he beamed talking about his daughter and laughed off his luck when it's about crashes. This is the result of that talk:

2019 didn't start too well, but at the end it improved. How did you experience it?

It was a tough season. Actually at the beginning it went well with the UAE Tour, it was a good start. Then I went toward Paris-Nice and I got sick, so I was a bit disappointed. Then it was Catalunya and the crash, so I was a long time out and it was a long way to come back. It was a hard period, six weeks in a neck brace. It is also hard to come back, you never know what will happen with your body. Also, you want to come back on a good level and that is always hard. I was training quite well, but in races it was not as I expected, the body reacted quite hard to my previously broken neck, all those muscles were not strong enough to really go for results. Then I had to settle back and train at home, train especially my back to get to a good level for the Vuelta. I did my best but it was not great, but seventh place in the Vuelta was for sure a good finish of the season.

You already had other heavy crashes in your career.

Yeah. When I crashed last year I said "can this get worse? Every time is getting worse and worse." That was also a setback but at that time there was also my young baby there so that also gave me a lot of different things and I could play with her, see her growing up, I got more motivation and it got me through that period. So that was also nice.

How do you get the motivation to return after those crashes?

The first day I said "not again" and "I don't know if I like cycling so much anymore" and then in a few days the motivation came back. The period at home normally is super hard because you can't do anything so it's sitting on the couch and trying to recover, but she was there, so she gave me so many things. I can play with her and be with her and she gives me a lot more things to think about, like normal life. So that gives me a bit more motivation to restart again and work towards things. I was sitting still for two weeks and then I started training again indoors and I did that for four and a half weeks and it was super hard. It was also mentally a hard period but I learned also a lot from it, which is also good. After all, it was a shit period but hopefully I can turn it around this year.

It has never crossed your mind to leave cycling?

No, never. I love cycling so much. When I step on the bike, also during training times, I enjoy it always. The motivation is also there and that is the most important.

Wilco Kelderman - Team Sunweb

You have been in the top ten of the Vuelta a España twice, do you think this race suits you particularly?

Not really. Last year I was injured and I could only do the Vuelta and it all worked out really well, but at the end the parcours is not really great for me. It's so steep and I like more regular climbs, longer climbs, so the Vuelta is not really my favourite race, but I am always good there. But it's not particularly my best race.

Do you think the parcours of the Giro d'Italia suits you better?

Yes, I think so. It's also longer stages, longer climbs, and it's hard. I'm used to the cold and in Italy it is quite cold in the mountains at that time of the year and that suits me very well.

What do you think of the parcours for the 2020 edition?

It looks good. With three TT's it normally suits me well. Also, the last week is super hard, so I really look forward to that.

You are now one of the few general classification riders in Sunweb, do you feel any pressure because of this?

Not really, because every year I have done one grand tour as the GC leader of the team so it's still the same way. Nothing really is changing for me. Maybe from the outside people will look more at me because Tom (Dumoulin) left but I don't feel pressure, it is all the same.

Talking about Tom, were you surprised by his departure?

On one hand yes, but on the other hand no. I know Tom very well, he lives close to me, so I knew that he had some problems and that he had some different thoughts about his career, so it was not a surprise for me. But I still didn't know what was going on but at the end I think it is a good decision for him. It is also mentally good to change in your career sometimes to a different team, with different people, it also gives you a new feeling, new motivations. I think for him it was a good decision.

But do you still feel good in Sunweb?

Yes, I do. The team structure is really good. How they develop, how they work, how they look at things, they have a lot of people working on different subjects; nutrition, material and everything. They prepare themselves for the best and that is the most important thing for me.

What are your plans for 2020?

After the UAE Tour I will have a training camp, then I go to Tirreno-Adriatico and then take some rest, do an altitude camp and then I normally will do the Tour de Romandie but there is also a discussion because it is really shortly before the Giro and it is also quite hard.

How do you see the Olympics and your own possibilities in a race like that?

I am really motivated to do it, but we can ride only with five guys, so it's a small team, and we have a lot of good Dutch riders so it will be hard to be in the team. But I need to show myself and I need to give them reasons to be selected. We will see. I think the parcours suits me because it's super hard so it's a dream to do the Olympic Games once.

Which other Dutch riders do you think could be in the race with you?

For sure Tom, he can also do the TT. Then Bauke Mollema, who is also good in classics. So those two for sure. Then we have a group of riders that can also do the Olympics.

The parcours of the World Championships is also for climbers, do you see yourself also there?

Yes, I hope to be there but I don't know if I'm good enough to go for a result but I can be there for the team.

Wilco Kelderman - Team Sunweb 2020
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