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If it was ever in doubt before, Olav Kooij confirmed he truly does have one of the fastest finishes in the bunch.
The towering 20-year-old beat back a who’s-who of bunch sprinters at Monday’s Sparkassen Münsterland Giro and blasted into sprinting’s big leagues.
“Winning is always good, but it’s even nicer when you defeat some world-class riders,” Kooij said. “They have all already won stages in a grand tour. I’m hoping to soon be able to do the same.”
Also read: Meet Olav Kooij
Victory over Jasper Philipsen, Dylan Groenewegen, and Tour de France green jerseys Fabio Jakobsen and Sam Bennett in Münster saw the Jumbo-Visma sprinter add sparkle to an already prolific palmarès.
After amassing 11 victories against less densely packed start sheets in what is his first full WorldTour season this year, Kooij made it 12 with a long-range gallop that left Jakobsen et al choking on his exhaust fumes.
It was some comeback from a whirlwind return from Wollongong, where Kooij led the Dutch team to fifth in the U23 road worlds.
“I didn’t feel very rested when I came back from Australia, so I didn’t really know what to expect today. Fortunately, I had strong legs in the final and could even shift up a gear,” he said.
Kooij’s rack of victories at 1. and 2.Pro races like Tour of Denmark or ZLM Tour don’t exactly pack the punch of the grand tour stages and marquee classics that litter his rivals’ records. But regardless, a dozen victories put the budding super sprinter second on the fast-finish winner’s table to only Jakobsen and promises big things to come.
“Although the season has been wonderful thus far, I want to end it well,” Kooij said Monday. “My next races are Gran Piemonte and Paris-Tours, and then it’s time for holidays.”
Sprinting toward a grand tour debut?
What comes next for Kooij and his grand tour ambitions?
After coming up through the Jumbo-Visma development system and with a WorldTour deal through 2023 in his pocket, the 6-foot-3 fast finisher is right in the center of his home team’s orbit.
He’s not yet started a grand tour, and riding on a team with Jonas Vingegaard, Wout van Aert, Primož Roglič, and the incoming Wilco Kelderman means space for sprinters is sparse.
Groenewegen struggled for elbowroom when he rode in Jumbo-yellow as the team increasingly focussed on GC at the end of the last decade and eventually found his niche at BikeExchange-Jayco.
But if Kooij keeps collecting victories at the rate he has so far in 2022, you can write him in for a grand tour debut at the Giro d’Italia or Vuelta a España in 2023. Jakobsen and Co. have been warned.