Kooij ninth on first stage ZLM Tour
Surprisingly, the first bunch sprint of the ZLM Tour did not take place. Olav Ko...
Olav Kooij has sprinted to second place in the Classic Brugge-De Panne. The Belgian one-day race was spectacular from start to finish and was characterised by echelons. Kooij joined a four-person break in the race's final stages, but Jasper Philipsen beat him in the sprint.
The riders left Bruges at noon for a 211-kilometer race through western Belgium. Brugge-De Panne is primarily a sprinters' race, with the world's best riders at the start. Strong winds and heavy rain cast doubt on the traditional bunch sprint in De Panne. But it soon became clear that the peloton had no intention of riding to the finish together.
Kooij sustained a puncture just before the first pass of De Moeren, where the pack first separated due to the echelons. "I was afraid my race was over. Luckily, Jos and Lennard brought me back to the third group after the bike change. Thanks to the team's good work, everything came together again. In the second passage, everything started all over again", the sprinter said.
"I was afraid my race was over, luckily Jos and Lennard brought me back"
With fifty kilometres to go, Kooij was well positioned at the front and was the only Team Jumbo-Visma rider to survive the new selection in the peloton. Sixteen riders made up the first group, and 21-year-old Kooij attacked a little later. Together with Philipsen, Lampaert and Frison, the lead was quickly extended. The foursome held on to their lead all the way to the line. "My legs were good enough today to survive the final battle and get into the final. I felt that Philipsen was very strong today. I had the right wheel, but unfortunately, I wasn't fast enough", Kooij said of the last few hundred metres.
With a good feeling, the young sprinter looked back on an exciting race. "Normally, there are always scenarios where I could have done better, but I can't blame myself. I haven't participated in many one-day races of this kind in my career, so this is another positive step for me."
"I think I can't blame myself today, this race gives me a lot of confidence"
”This Sunday, Kooij and his team will be at the start of Gent-Wevelgem. "I'm really looking forward to that as well. This race gives me a lot of confidence for the next races. The form was already good in Paris-Nice, and fortunately, I could continue that. It's a shame I didn't win, but I think it's fair to say I rode a good race."