Wilco Kelderman is not a new name but his third place on the Col du Béal – or first behind the Froome-Contador duel – was very impressive. He’s just ridden the Giro and normally a young rider would be tired. I suspect the Dutchman is going to find every passing day in the Dauphiné harder and harder as fatigue accumulates like compound interest, the more tired you are then the more tired you’re going to get. Kelderman – “Cellar Man” in Dutch – made a name for himself in the 2012 Dauphiné with its monster 53km time trial. That was the day Bradley Wiggins won and Andy Schleck crashed. There can be mitigating factors in a time trial like the start time but over that distance there was no hiding. Come 2013 and I picked him as a rider to watch and he did well but quietly, fifth overall in the Tour de Romandie and taking the Tour of Denmark. This year results could have been different had he not punctured in Paris-Nice at the foot of the Mur de Fayence, an event which surely cost him a high GC finish, perhaps a podium? He made up for it in the Giro with a solid seventh place. As for the future, his contract is up and Belkin’s budget might not stretch to keeping him alongside Bauke Mollema, Robert Gesink and Laurens Ten Dam.
Yates to the Tour de France?
If Kelderman has been around for a while, Adam Yates is a first year neo-pro. Eighth on the Col du Béal, last year he finished second overall in the Tour de l’Avenir but it’s the start of the season that stands out. Best young rider in the Tour de San Luis he then won the Tour of Turkey overall. Impressive for a 21 year old. People are now talking about him riding the Tour but forget it. Yes the Tour starts in Britain but the “line up a local” gambit is presumably below Orica-Greenedge. They are not short of riders for July and even if they were, Yates is a 21 year old with a busy season already. He deserves a good break.
He’s not in the Dauphiné but Sam Bennett could ride the Tour de France. His case is different because NetApp-Endura might welcome the publicity in the first week, a sprinter will be very visible and if they’re a good team, they’re not packed with star names. But still, as good as the Irish rider is the publicity is likely to come from him finishing, say, fifth as challenging the likes of Marcel Kittel, André Greipel and Mark Cavendish is a work-in-progress.
Back to the Col du Béal and IAM’s Sébastien Reichenbach (“rye-shen-back”) was one place behind Yates. Last year he won the Trofeo Matteotti and was fourth in the mountainous Tour de l’Ain. He was just outside the top-20 in the Ardennes classics, not results to make the front page in his Switzerland but decent for a second year pro. A pure climber we should see more of him this week and possibly in the Tour de France.
Kenny Elissonde was 12th yesterday and famous already as the stage winner on the Angliru. A pure climber he probably found the Col du Béal wasn’t steep enough yesterday. In fact he might not be riding the Tour de France because it’s not mountainous enough. It didn’t cause any ripples but Tony Gallopin’s 15th place was impressive for a rider who’s often taken for a sprinter in the finisseur mold, a rider who excels in hilly classics. Clearly there’s more under the bonnet than a fast finish.
Finally there’s a rider who could not shine yesterday so he won today’s stage instead. Giant-Shimano’s Nikias Arndt is only 22 but has won many sprints in the amateur ranks. In his first year as a pro he had two top-3s in the Tour of Turkey, “helped” because Marcel Kittel crashed out and so the German had to take over. Later on he finished the Vuelta with third place on the final stage. Today marked his first pro win after two second places this year. He’s not related to 2004 World Champion Judith.
I wanted to explore a few of the names in the mix yesterday and try an answer to the “should Yates ride the Tour” question I’ve got by email, comments and Twitter but all this would run to too many words for the preview. To pre-empt any comments, yes Andrew Talansky is doing very well but is 25 and already into his fourth season and Bob Jungels is still a neo-pro too as the label applies to riders in the first two years.
These are just a few names we’ve seen in and around the Dauphiné and on just two stages. There’s nothing unique about the Dauphiné but the combination of a tough summit finish and a field full of Tour de France contenders does mean there’s little left to chance. But there’s only so much room at the top: more riders are tipped for the top than make it there. The names above are already thriving.