Victories in E3 Saxo Classic and Gent-Wevelgem in photos
Last weekend, with E3 Saxo Classic and Gent-Wevelgem, two big Flemish classics w...
Olav Kooij has won the fifth stage of Paris-Nice. The 21-year-old sprinter got off the wheel of Mads Pedersen after more than two hundred kilometres, following a strong lead-out from Edoardo Affini, and pushed his bike across the line first. It is Kooij's second victory at WorldTour level, having won a stage at the Tour of Poland last season.
The longest stage of this edition of the "Race to the Sun" had to be climbed right from the start. Some second- and third-category climbs were perfect for a possible breakaway, but it did not materialise.
Towards the end, teams with a sprinter ensured the pace increased considerably. Team Jumbo-Visma kept Jonas Vingegaard out of trouble before helping Kooij in the final kilometre. Affini put Kooij in an excellent position in the last few hundred metres, and the Dutch rider took his first win of the season.
"This is the best win of my career so far", said Kooij, who couldn't believe his luck. "I am very grateful to the team. Edoardo's work in the race's closing stages was phenomenal. I felt like I was too far off on the last kilometre, but we chose the right side of the roundabout and made up a few metres. Edoardo then put me in the front perfectly, and I passed Pedersen. This victory means a lot to me. It was one of my goals for this spring. I know that on a good day, I can beat anyone. That confidence has only grown."
"This is the best win of my career so far"
Kooij had already achieved some strong results this season and felt that victory at the highest level was getting closer and closer. "I've been close a few times this season, and we've achieved some great results together, but for a sprinter, only winning counts. It is cool that I am now doing it at the highest level. It feels good to win another stage after winning the team time trial." Kooij's victory was the tenth victory of the season for Team Jumbo-Visma.