Dutchman Olav Kooij became the first rider in four years to win back-to-back stages of the Tour of Britain as he took his second victory in as many days in Wrexham on Monday.
Kooij was once again the beneficiary of a perfect Jumbo – Visma lead-out, although BORA – hansgrohe’s Danny van Poppel pipped Wout van Aert into second and deny the all-conquering team consecutive one-twos.
Victory means Kooij emulates what Mathieu van der Poel did on the final two days of the 2019 race, and also retains the overall race lead going into stage three in East Riding of Yorkshire on Tuesday.
He said: “We went again for another win today – we took control and tried to catch the break which took a huge effort by two of our guys. We went into the last kilometre in a really good position again and were able to take the second win.
“We came here for stages and a possible GC [bid] with Wout, so we are really happy and hopefully we can continue like this. We’re looking day by day and there are a few more opportunities. We’ll see if we can control the other days or change it up a bit and see what we can do looking forward to GC so there’s plenty more chances to come, I guess.”
After moving to within two of van Aert’s win tally in the 2021 edition, Koiij said of his chances of claiming a quartet of wins: “we will see, maybe we can talk about it in the room tonight!”
Ninety-five riders started the 109.9-kilometre clockwise loop from Chester Street in Wrexham under a blanket of 25°C heat, across the border into Cheshire and back to the start and finish line in Wrexham’s bustling city centre.
It didn’t take long for three riders to breakaway: Jacob Scott (Bolton Equities Black Spoke), Abram Stockman (TDT – Unibet Cycling Team), and Finn Crockett (Saint Piran) went clear after three kilometres, before Callum Ormiston (Global 6 Cycling) made a monumental effort to bridge the gap and join them at the five-kilometre mark.
The peloton kept the quartet on a short leas, with the gap between themselves and the riders ahead plateauing around 30 seconds for the majority of the stage. Crockett led the breakaway into the base of the first Pinarello king of the mountains climb at Eyton, upon which competition leader and Scott’s team-mate James Fouche tried to bridge the gap across to them. He timed his attack slightly too late, allowing Crockett to take maximum points.
Three kilometres later Stockman rolled through first at cottages.com sprint at Johnstown, but by now it was just him and Crockett clear. They were caught by the peloton with 12.6 kilometres remaining.
Jumbo – Visma’s Edoardo Affini took control at the front of the race with two kilometres to go, setting a blistering pace with van Aert behind. The 2021 Tour of Britain champion then perfectly placed Kooij to launch his sprint with just 100 metres to the finish line.
Victory means that Kooij also retained the lead in the cottages.com points and the Sportive Breaks best young rider classifications.