Olav Kooij powered to a second successive victory on stage two of the 2023 Tour of Britain in Wrexham.
In a hectic finale which saw a late crash cause a small split in the peloton, Jumbo-Visma took control of the bunch with Wout van Aert guiding his teammate Kooij to an impressive second stage win.
Kooij had already won stage one in Manchester on Monday. As a result the Dutchman was leading the race going into stage two, a 110 kilometre loop starting and finishing in Wrexham.
As the riders powered towards the finish line, Van Aert and Kooij were able to hold off a late surge from Bora-Hansgrohe led by Ryan Mullen and Nils Pollitt. The Bora duo combined to give the peloton a huge injection of pace with two kilometres to go in a bid to set up their colleague Sam Bennett.
As the road narrowed on the approach into the Welsh City, Tobias Lund Andresen of DSM caught a traffic cone at the side of the road and slammed to the ground. Van Aert and Kooij, along with the Bora riders, kept cool heads and managed to swerve around the stricken Danish rider and continue towards the finish.
In the end, Bennett and his teammate Danny van Poppel were unable to match Kooij’s final kick as the Dutchman grabbed his second win.
Speaking to the media in Wrexham, Kooij said that he felt all eyes were on Jumbo-Visma to reel in the four man breakaway that had an advantage for a large part of the day.
Finn Crockett of Saint Piran along with Jacob Scott (Bolton Equities Black Spoke), Callum Ormiston (Global 6) and Abram Stockman (Tour de Tietema) worked tirelessly in a bid to contest the stage win. Crockett and Stockman were the last men standing with 12 kilometres to race.
Kooij said: “After yesterday all the teams were looking at us to control the break. So yeah, we used two guys to get them back. It was quite fast towards the last three kilometres, slightly down and a bit twisty.
"We knew that [positioning] going into the last kilometres was quite crucial after we did a recon just before the start [of the stage] of the last km and we managed to do that.
“After that Wout [van Aert] went on a slightly uphill part then everyone was suffering so I just had to go then for one last bit.”
The Dutchman explained that the late crash was a racing incident caused by the fast movement of the peloton as riders battled for position.
“I think we [the peloton] went from left to right and we squeezed together and then there was a nasty crash,” Kooij added. “It's never good to see such things but I think like I say we went from from left to right and then that got us close to the barrier.”
Stage three of the race on Tuesday takes the riders to North Yorkshire for 154.7 kilometres of action between Goole and Beverley.
Kooij gave nothing away when asked if the longer stage would mean his team would have to adopt different tactics.
“We'll have to see. I mean, the guys worked really hard for two days in a row now. So yeah, it will be a long and hard week if keep going like this. So yeah, we will see what the tactics will be for the days to come.”
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