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Olav Kooij has become third in Gran Piemonte. The young sprinter from Team Jumbo-Visma crashed at twenty kilometres from the finish but was not discouraged by this setback. After the race, Kooij had to have his elbow stitched up.
The race in the northwest of Italy took the riders over 177 kilometres from Rocca Canavese to Borgosesia. Along the way, five riders managed to break away from the peloton. The five gathered a maximum lead of three minutes. Team Jumbo-Visma bet on sprinter Kooij and did not fail in the pursuit. At 25 kilometres from the finish the five escapees were caught.
That turned out to be the beginning of a hectic final. At twenty kilometres from the finish Kooij slipped in a treacherous corner. With a bloodied shoulder, forearm and shin, the rider from the Dutch town of Numansdorp quickly got back on his bike. Thanks in part to the efforts of his teammates, Kooij quickly returned to the front of the peloton. Michel Hessmann and Edoardo Affini then took care of the lead-out. The latter catapulted Kooij a few hundred metres from the finish. The sprinter underlined his good form, but was no match for winner Matthew Walls and runner-up Giacomo Nizzolo.
"I’m glad I could count on the fantastic support of my teammates."
“This third place is definitely not bad”, Kooij explained. “Walls and Nizzolo had just a bit more pure speed at the end. With the crash in mind, I think this is a performance I can live with. Of course I would have preferred not to crash, but those things happen in cycling. Fortunately, I could continue. After such a crash, it is important to flip the switch and work very hard to get back in the pack. I’m glad I could count on the fantastic support of my teammates. The fact that I am one of the youngest riders in the peloton doesn’t mean anything to me. The team gave me the confidence today and I would like to repay that. In the coming years I hope to make great strides and compete for victory in races like this, but it’s always uncertain what the future holds.”