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Versatile Van Dijke wants to keep fighting in final week of Giro d’Italia

Versatile Van Dijke wants to keep fighting in final week of Giro d’Italia

In his first Grand Tour, Tim van Dijke finds himself constantly surprised. He was called up last minute as a replacement, started as the second man in the sprint train for Olav Kooij, became a lead-out man, an attacker, and then a sprinter himself. And he did all this with equal enthusiasm, conviction, and success.

“Apparently, anything can happen in a Grand Tour.” This is the main lesson Tim van Dijke takes from the Giro d’Italia, the first Grand Tour of his career. “It has already been quite a journey. Of course, I was super happy when I heard that I could still go to the Giro. Your first Grand Tour is something you dream of. Obviously, I would have preferred a more specific preparation, especially after already having a busy spring season. But I think I have proven that I am up to the task.”

Van Dijke, along with his twin brother Mick and Olav Kooij, was part of the first generation from Team Visma | Lease a Bike’s development team. “To be able to start my first Grand Tour together with Olav in Turin was very special,” says Van Dijke. “We’ve been through quite a lot together and were really looking forward to this.”

"It almost felt like I had won myself, I was so proud of Olav and the team"

Tim van Dijke

Van Dijke was set to play an important role in the first sprint stages of this Giro. He led lead-out man Christophe Laporte to the deep finale, after which the Frenchman launched Kooij. A sixth and fourth place in the first two sprints gave optimism, but the team had traveled to Italy to win stages. “It was a pity that it didn’t quite work out in those first stages, but you could feel it was possible. Then it’s important to keep believing and go all out in every sprint.”

After Robert Gesink and later Laporte dropped out, it was up to Van Dijke to lead Kooij as well as possible into the finale of stage nine to Naples. Kooij then sprinted impressively to victory. “That was really a very special feeling, I had goosebumps all over,” Van Dijke recalls. “It almost felt like I had won myself, I was so proud of Olav and the team. From those early races with the Development Team in Eastern Europe to winning a bunch sprint in the Giro: what a journey we have had together.”

After that euphoria, the sobering reality hit quickly: Kooij fell ill during the rest day and had to withdraw. A day later, team leader and at that moment leader in the youth classification Cian Uijtdebroeks also had to withdraw. “That was a huge disappointment, of course,” says Van Dijke. “Our two leaders dropped out within two days. And that while we really felt that there were still many beautiful things possible: more stage wins with Olav and Cian was really doing great for a good overall classification. The day Cian had to withdraw, Edoardo Affini and I went on the attack. That illustrates the mentality we all still have here: we want to keep fighting.”

This was evident again in stage thirteen. After having already taken on two different positions in the sprint train earlier, Van Dijke now took his chance in a bunch sprint himself. And he did a good job: he finished fourth. “I really didn’t expect that I could do that, but Jan Tratnik convinced me to believe in it. He was right.”

This strengthens Van Dijke, as well as his remaining teammates Affini, Tratnik, and Attila Valter, in the belief that something is still possible in the final week of the Giro. “We have all shown that we can compete for victory in this race. We want to keep going for it and together with the sports directors we make a plan for each stage. Personally, I would like to sprint again in the two bunch sprints that are normally still to come. I still feel good and am looking forward to the final week.”

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