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Stay Home Stories: Olav Kooij

Stay Home Stories: Olav Kooij

In the column ‘Stay Home Stories’, the cyclists of Team Jumbo-Visma talk about their lives and current activities now there is no racing until further notice. This time we talk with Olav Kooij, rider of Jumbo-Visma Development Team.

How are you?
“It is going really well actually. I am healthy, just like my family. That is of course the most important. I can move forward with my training, but otherwise it is quite quiet. Fortunately, we can still do those trainings outside, even though I do it on my own. I am not the only one who goes out alone. Many cyclists and cyclists comply with the guidelines of the government. That’s good. I haven’t ridden my Tacx since everything got locked down. Maybe that will come, but while I still can, I like to go outside. This is certainly a lot more pleasant with the beautiful spring weather. For my strength training, I always went to a gym in my village. When the gyms had to close, I bought some materials to be able to do these training sessions. You can do most of it with some weights and a barbell.”

How do you get on with your days?
“Last week I had to do some tests for my high school. This was not done online, but simply on location. Of course at an appropriate distance and according to the guidelines. It took quite some time to prepare for these school exams. In addition, I look for activities in and around the house. I like doing a bit of work. Fortunately, my father has maintained the house well and there are no major renovations or anything like that to be done.”

This year you would complete three classes for pre-university education. What does your high school completion look like now?
“The central exams are of course cancelled. Last week’s test week would be my last, but because I missed a test week in January due to a training camp, I have to catch up in May. Because I now have a little more time to study, I expect that it will all work out and that I will soon have my diploma. I currently have no plans for the new school year. In any case, I am not going to study full-time. Though I am looking around for any courses or part-time courses that I can do besides cycling.”

Let’s look back at your start of the season. Can you describe that start?
“That was of course a great start to my time as an U23 rider. Every now and then I think back and it feels good. Yet it seems like a long time ago. I did not immediately expect these results. I knew I was in good shape because I had a good winter. I didn’t expect it to result in two victories in Croatia and a second place in the Ster van Zwolle.”

Did those two finish photos get a nice place in the house?
“They are on my phone, so I sometimes come across them. I did not have them printed. We can’t actually find photos like this in our house, so I don’t expect it to happen in this case.”

You are riding for Jumbo-Visma Development Team this season. How did you experience the first months in this development team?
“They were excellent. Of course it started in the winter months with the training weekends. There we got to know each other well and we all worked towards the start of the season. The training camps were also good and fun. When we were told that we would go to training camp in Norway, I was enthusiastic immediately. I am a winter sports enthusiast, especially with my ice skating background. Cross-country skiing seemed like a cool sport. I thought it would come close to skiing. I used to do that when I went on a skiing holiday with my family. In the end, cross-country skiing went quite well and it was a nice training camp. The atmosphere was also very good. We were all in one house somewhere in Norway, in the middle of the snow. That is different from a training camp in Spain. There you mainly are in your hotel room with your roommate and you see the rest of the group less often. That was not the case in Norway. I did notice that there was a nice group atmosphere in Norway that week.”

Do you notice that you are getting more attention out on the streets because you ride in the yellow-black outfit?
“There are more cyclists who look at you or speak to you now. More than when I was cycling in my club attire. Before this coronacrisis, some people just got in my wheel or had a chat. That is nice to experience. Then they ask everything. Where I go, how much I train. You name it.”

Are you working on your cooking skills now that you are at home more often?
“The development team recently started working with the Foodcoach app. That is a beautiful and interesting platform. Of course we heard a lot about it through the pros, but it is great that we can now get started. There are fun and tasty dishes in that app. In the morning I like to eat something with oats. There are plenty of variations in the Foodcoach app, so I have enough inspiration for preparing my meals. In the evening I like to eat a good pasta. I am still a cyclist after all.”

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