Kelderman entered the penultimate stage of the race in fifth place overall, just 32 seconds behind Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroën) in fourth position, and there was reason to believe that the counter-la- watch could work in Kelderman’s favor. He was faster in the stage 5 time trial, gaining seven seconds over the Australian rider on the 27.2 kilometer course, but to close the gap he would have had to save a lot more time and, with a course of 30.8 kilometers this time, he only had three more kilometers to do it.“It was a tough, bumpy ride, ups and downs, and a pretty normal day for me,” Kelderman said in a team statement. “Today it wasn’t about setting a particular pace but rather what was left in your legs after three weeks of tough racing. Obviously, I intended to be 4th overall, so I’m a little disappointed with that aspect, but also happy with 5th. ”
Kelderman came off the starting ramp two minutes ahead of O’Connor and while the Dutch rider set a solid time to finish 26th, 2:20 behind stage winner Wout van Aert (Jumbo- Visma) of 35:53, as soon as the Australian’s time checks started to arrive it seemed unlikely that Kelderman had done enough to close the gap. O’Connor was even in the lead in the first time check, but passed out in the final stages, meaning he finished with a slower time, but 21 seconds was not enough to bring about a change in the general classification.
“I’m 11 seconds behind O’Connor in the overall standings, which from everyone’s perspective can be seen as a small gap, but I’m still behind him,” said Kelderman. “I knew it was going to be tight because Ben wasn’t far in the first TT either. I gave it my all and it’s the best I could have done today.
Now Kelderman looks set to travel to Paris and cross the final finish line on the Champs-Élyées in fifth position, an overall result which means he finished in the top five of all the Grand Tours. The 30-year-old, who left Team Sunweb for Bora-Hansgrohe this year, finished third in the Giro d’Italia in 2020 and fourth in the Vuelta a España in 2017.
“It’s good to have a great position in the Giro and Vuelta overall standings, but the Tour de France is the biggest race in the world and you want to have the best possible performance,” said Kelderman. “I got there and I feel happy and proud. I think we had a successful Tour de France and it’s a good feeling for the riders and the team. “
The team entered the race with Kelderman leading the overall hopefuls and Sagan looking for stage wins and potentially even an eighth green jersey, but the three-time world champion crashed in the ‘stage 3 and left the race before stage 12 with a knee injury, which he underwent after his start. Nevertheless, Bora-Hansgrohe won two stage victories to accompany the high place of the general classification. Nils Politt took the win with a solo break on stage 12 and Patrick Konrad repeated the feat on stage 16.
“Wilco had a good TT, considering his crash yesterday. Several times during the TT he was not able to take the best aero position and did not ride as aggressively as we hoped if he had not suffered a crash, ”said the manager. team sportsman, Enrico Poitschke. “We are happy with this aspect, he is very close to 4th overall, just 11 seconds behind, but we are happy with 5th.
“Tomorrow, we will have to be careful and avoid losing this place. Normally, the last stop is just a procession towards Paris, but you never know, you have to be focused. Overall, we are satisfied with our position in the general classification and our two stage victories. “