Kooij ninth on first stage ZLM Tour
Surprisingly, the first bunch sprint of the ZLM Tour did not take place. Olav Ko...
Loe van Belle has finished the first stage of the Coppi e Bartali in fourth place. The 21-year-old rider of the Jumbo-Visma Development Team, who is riding for the main team in the Italian stage race, was able to keep up with the best on the hilly course. In the bunch sprint, only two riders beat him. The stage victory went to Remi Cavagna, who crossed the line solo.
Coppi e Bartali began with a 168-kilometre stage to and from Riccione. After a fast start, five riders managed to break away from the peloton. The quintet built up a seven-minute lead, but it was not enough.
Cavagna picked up speed on the fourth and penultimate climb, and his attack was successful. Team Jumbo-Visma tried to close the gap in the last kilometres, but the Frenchman's lead proved too big. Van Belle sprinted to fourth place, thirty seconds from the stage winner.
"I am definitely happy with the result", Van Belle said. "Before the race, I thought: I'll try to sprint if I can keep up on the climbs. I knew I would be among the peloton's faster riders because the 'big names' would probably not survive the climb. That, fortunately, was the case."
"The most important thing is to learn and gain experience"
Van Belle claimed that as soon as Cavagna attacked, he was unable to follow. "He quickly developed a sizable gap. The other guys couldn't react, while I tried everything possible to stay in the group. The team rode hard at the front, but Remi was difficult to beat today."
Sports Director Robert Wagner praised the future professional's performance: "Loe did well. He wanted to be in the sprint and finished third."
According to Wagner, there are still plenty of opportunities to get an excellent result in the coming days. "We have a young team that is very strong. The most important thing is to learn and gain experience. If we do everything right, we can compete for wins here."