Olav Kooij was full of confidence after winning stage three of the Tour of Britain in Beverley, North Yorkshire to complete his hat trick of victories with two coming in the jersey of the race leader.
Prior to stage three getting underway, the Dutchman on Jumbo-Visma had won both of the opening two stages in Manchester and Wrexham.
Kooij had teammate Wout van Aert to thank once again after the Belgian superstar delivered him to the line in the final kilometre before Kooij opened up his final kick with the finish in sight. The race leader held off a flying Danny van Poppel of Bora-Hansgrohe and Great Britain’s Ethan Vernon to land yet another stage win.
Speaking to the media post-race, Kooij explained that Jumbo had ever so slightly miscalculated the exact point of the finish, and the team were expecting it earlier than it actually was.
Kooij said: “We tried to make a split in the peloton during the crosswinds. But that didn't happen and then I think the breakaway was caught and some attacks started. So, you know, we had quite a hard job to bring back those strong guys.
“We actually miscalculated a bit in the final kilometres because we thought the finish would be a bit earlier but in the end, we still managed to still make it a hat trick. It was a slight drag uphill. And then you need to have the legs. We took some confidence from the last two days and today we showed again that we're able to finish it off.”
With 40 kilometres left to race, Alex Richardson of Saint Piran along with his teammates Jack Rootkin-Gray and Harry Birchill launched a huge attack in a bid to pull themselves away from the bunch towards the breakaway trio up the road which included Harry Tanfield (Tour de Tietema).
The move led by Richardson - a two-time winner of the Lincoln GP - sparked a reaction from Jumbo with Van Aert visibly seen dashing to the front to lift the tempo in order to reel the trio of riders from the Cornwall-based team back in.
Kooij explained that the move had caused slight panic in the main field and that Jumbo were forced to keep calm in order to catch them.
“Yeah, I think it was a nice move,” he said. “If it had eventually split then they would also have been in the front group. So yeah, we stayed calm. We knew where we would launch and where we would go. We knew it would be hard but could probably catch them back.”
The attack from Saint Piran split the race wide open and was the catalyst to a further series of moves then being launched as riders looked to prevent Jumbo from continuing to dominate the race overall.
Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Matt Bostock (Bolton Equities Black Spoke) were amongst the attackers but it ultimately wasn’t to be as Jumbo took control of the front of the main field as the finish rapidly approached.
Kooij acknowledged Van Aert’s contribution yet again to his victory but also heaped praise on the rest of his teammates who he said had all contributed to his third win.
“Again, it's a real team performance. We started pulling with two guys from the start to control today. So yeah, we knew after those two days that we are the main favourites for those stages. So really amazing job by all the guys.”
The Tour of Britain continues on Wednesday and returns to Nottinghamshire for stage four in which the riders will face 166 kilometres between Sherwood Forest and Newark-on-Trent.
Last year’s race was cancelled after reaching Mansfield in the county due to the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
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