Swift move helps Kooij to victory in opening stage ZLM Tour

Swift move helps Kooij to victory in opening stage ZLM Tour

Olav Kooij has won the first stage of the ZLM Tour. The Dutchman outsprinted his rivals in the narrow streets of Kapelle, which brought his season total to five victories and the team’s total to seventeen. Kooij will start tomorrow in the yellow leader’s jersey.

At about forty kilometres from the finish line, a five-rider group had been caught, mainly through Team Jumbo-Visma’s efforts. The yellow and black brigade kept a tight grip on the race and countered all attacks to bring Kooij to the finish line in a comfortable position.

Although the youngster was well-surrounded by his teammates throughout the stage, he found himself isolated in the hectic final kilometre. Tim van Dijke did his very best to get to the front of the race and offered Kooij the ideal lead-out.

“I’m thrilled that I could finish it off”, Kooij said. “We came here to win a stage. The fact that we managed to do that immediately is fantastic. We couldn’t have wished for a better start.”

Kooij was particularly grateful for Van Dijke’s lead-out. “In the last kilometre it got crowded, so I lost Mick (van Dijke) and chose Elia Viviani’s wheel. Suddenly I saw Tim pass me and I followed him. He made a super move and I dare say I won thanks to his move.”

For the 20-year-old sprinter, the victory in his own country is a nice boost after his crash in Hungary. There, he had to leave the race in the leader’s jersey with a severe calf injury. On Saturday, Kooij was also unable to win the Heistse Pijl due to a crash.

“I’m not at my top yet. I had a good feeling today and we took the initiative with the team”, Kooij said. “It’s good to get more self-confidence and I’m happy to finish like this.”