Kooij resumes in Baloise Belgium Tour

Kooij resumes in Baloise Belgium Tour

Exactly one month after his stage victory in the Giro d'Italia, Olav Kooij will make his return to the peloton. The 22-year-old sprinter, who had to leave the Giro early due to illness, hopes to regain the good feeling in the Baloise Belgium Tour. "It would be nice if I can win a stage."

Kooij experienced a highlight of his career on May 12th by winning the ninth stage of the Giro d'Italia. A win in a grand tour was the next step he wanted to take, according to Kooij. "The goal was to win a stage, so if that succeeds, that's great. I look back on it with a very special feeling," Kooij said.

However, the young Numansdorper could not enjoy his success for very long, as he fell ill during the following rest day. The team's medical staff decided he was unable to start a day later. "Yes, that was quite a turnaround", he continued. ‘At that point you are no longer preoccupied with the euphoria, but the feeling of illness dominates. It is hard to leave the race when you know there are still some sprint opportunities to come."

"I'm heading to Belgium with confidence and good spirits."

Olav Kooij

After his exit, Kooij took time to fully recover and get back to his level. Now, a month later, he feels fit again and ready to race. "This seemed like a great race to resume competition. I'm looking forward to racing again, it's been a while. I'm heading to Belgium with confidence and good spirits."

Kooij sees several chances for the sprinters in the Baloise Belgium Tour, which starts with a time trial on Wednesday. In a strong field of competitors, he hopes to aim high in the bunch sprints. ‘When you have been out for a while, it is always the question how you are doing. I hope to regain the good feeling and compete for stage wins. This year there are several good sprinters at the start, so that makes it extra nice."

According to Kooij, Team Visma | Lease a Bike is not only aiming for day success in the Belgian five-day race, but also for a good general classification. With Per Strand Hagenes, Edoardo Affini and Mick van Dijke, the team has several candidates. "Per will be our main man, but Mick and Edoardo can also do a good time trial. We start with a strong team and look ahead with a lot of ambition."

Alongside Kooij, Van Dijke, Affini and Hagenes, Tosh Van der Sande, Julien Vermote and Colby Simmons will also compete in the Belgian stage race.

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