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Olav Kooij has won the second stage of the Cro Race. The nineteen-year-old sprinter of Team Jumbo-Visma was the fastest in the bunch sprint in Otočac. He is also the new leader in the general classification.
For the Dutchman, it is his first win of the season. For Team Jumbo-Visma, it is the thirty-ninth victory. Kooij won a stage in the Settimana Coppi e Bartali last season.
In the hilly stage, an early breakaway was reeled in in the final. Team Jumbo-Visma moved forward at the last minute, after which Mick van Dijke put his sprinter in position with a textbook lead-out.
Kooij was very happy with the victory. “I really wanted to win today. After my second place in the first stage, I knew it was possible. The team kept in front all day and the lead-out was perfect. Croatia has always been kind to me. Last year I won the Trofej Poreč and the Trofej Umag here. It is always nice to return to a country where you are successful. The next few days are going to be tough, but there are more opportunities to come.”
Kooij joined the WorldTour team from the Jumbo-Visma Development Team at the beginning of this year. Robbert de Groot is Head of Development within that programme. He, therefore, enjoys Kooij’s victory and the development of the young riders. “Olav’s victory is very nice. Developing riders is the main part of the development team. Our philosophy is to give those guys opportunities at a higher level step by step and to systematically let the riders have a taste of the WorldTour level. Besides Olav, you can now also see that with Mick and Tim van Dijke who are also doing very well in Croatia. All the investments and sacrifices these guys are making are now slowly paying off. This is not only nice for them but also a confirmation that we are doing well as a Development team, to deliver riders who are successful. It is good for the atmosphere within the team. We fight with each other and empathize with each other. It gives confidence and it certainly gives a boost for the young riders to continue to develop.”