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Olav Kooij has finished second in the second stage of Paris-Nice. After a frantic final, disrupted by a crash, the sprinter of Team Jumbo-Visma came a few centimetres short of Mads Pedersen in the sprint.
With one kilometre to go, things went wrong at high speed on the right side of the peloton. Several riders crashed after overlooking a traffic island. Edoardo Affini and Kooij from Team Jumbo-Visma were positioned on the left side. They managed to avoid the crash, after which Kooij joined the battle for the stage victory.
“We were well positioned with the roundabout still to come in the last kilometre”, Kooij says. “Teams were constantly on the lookout for potential echelons, which made racing quite tense all day. In the final, the pace was very high with the tailwind and the descending roads.”
"Edo really did a great job, he put Olav in a good position for the sprint"
The 21-year-old sprinter owed his perfect position to teammate Affini. “Edo really did a great job. He put Olav in a good position for the sprint”, sports director Marc Reef said. Kooij: “Mads Pedersen eventually moved in between us, allowing me to launch my sprint from his wheel.” Unfortunately, he was narrowly beaten by the Dane.
Kooij had previously come close to winning his first race of the season. He finished fourth in the opening stage yesterday, but in the Tour of Valencia and the UAE Tour, the youngster has already achieved four top-five finishes. “It’s frustrating that I haven’t managed to win yet. The first two stages in France perfectly demonstrate how every sprint is unique.” Reef agreed. “Olav is getting closer and always participates well. Hopefully, he can go for the win in the fifth stage.”