Wout van Aert guides Olav Kooij to victory on stage one of Tour of Britain

Jumbo-Visma seal one-two on opening stage in Manchester

Olav Kooij wins Tour of Britain stage one
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Jumbo-Visma sprinter Olav Kooij earned his eighth victory of the season on Sunday, winning a bunch dash on stage one of the Tour of Britain

The Dutchman was guided to the line in Manchester by his decorated team-mate Wout van Aert, who held his speed to claim second place himself. Bora-Hansgrohe’s Sam Bennett followed across the line in third.

"The whole team did a great effort," Kooij said afterwards. "We had to pull quite hard to bring back the break and even just to sprint for the win. 

"The guys still managed to get me and Wout first and second through the corner and I just had to go to the line. To win with everybody so involved makes it even sweeter." 

Asked about Van Aert's role in the victory, the 21-year-old said: "He's one of the best bike riders in the world. To have him in front of me gave so much confidence. You can just trust that he'll probably get it right and he sure did. It's amazing to have him in the team, and to have him here. To get first and second is a dream.

"This week we came with the objective to do well in the sprint stages, so to start with a win on the first day gives confidence for the rest of the week."  

The opening stage of this year’s Tour of Britain took the riders on a circling 164km route, starting south of Manchester in Altrincham, before winding anti-clockwise around the city. 

Moments after the flag drop, the first breakaway of the race duly formed. The group was composed of five riders, including three Brits - Harry Tanfield of TDT-Unibet and Saint Piran duo Jack Rootkin-Gray and Zeb Kyffin - who flew the flag in their home stage race. 

The group’s advantage, however, barely nudged beyond the two-minute mark, and their chances of staying away dwindled when Tanfield, the strongest rouleur, dropped off the back. 

With 5.5km remaining, Kyffin launched a last-gasp bid for victory, but was closely followed by his fellow escapee Frederik Dversnes (Uno-X). The peloton reeled in the duo inside 2km to go, and the sprint trains stretched out through the bunch. 

On the front, Jumbo-Visma led the charge with Kooij in tow. Van Aert took up lead-out duties as the peloton swung onto the historic Deansgate thoroughfare, and unleashed his Dutch team-mate with the line in sight. 

The Belgian then continued his sprint to secure a commanding one-two for Jumbo-Visma. GC hopeful Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) finished 12th on the same time. 

James Fouché (Bolton Equities Black Spoke) earned himself the King of the Mountains jersey for stage two, having been the first to crest the climbs of Grain’s Bar and the Rake, a three-time site of the National Hill-Climb Championships.

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