Olav Kooij (Visma-Lease A Bike) took advantage of a lead-out from superstar teammate Wout van Aert to take his and his team’s first win of the 2024 season at the Clásica de Almería.
The Dutchman pipped Matteo Moschetti (Q36.5) to the line, celebrating a touch early in the process and putting his hand on his head as he looked over to the fast-finishing Italian, who threw his bike but came just short of nipping through to win.
Behind the duo, Matteo Trentin (Tudor Pro Cycling) came through to take third place ahead of Arnaud De Lie (Lotto-Dstny), while a little further back three riders came down in a nasty crash in the final metres of the race with the incident lucky not to take more men down.
“I thought so but then on the line I looked to my left and maybe I should’ve looked a bit earlier. Those are maybe mistakes you make in the first race. You know for the next races that you need to go all-out for the line,” Kooij said after his win.
“The team was really strong but with all the roundabouts sometimes you lose each other. Also in the last kilometre, we had some trouble getting out and I decided to do my move on the left just before the corner, which brought me in a good position.
“It was already quite an effort and then luckily Wout came by on the right and we just said ‘Go’ and I did my sprint. I felt the effort from before and luckily it was just enough.”
intermarché-Wanty and Arkéa-B&B Hotels had led out the peloton for the final sprint inside the final kilometre, though it was Wout van Aert who shot to the front and wrested control at the right time with Kooij on his wheel.
The Belgian put in a perfect final lead-out for his 22-year-old teammate, reliving the successful partnership they enjoyed at last year’s Tour of Britain. Kooij came out of the wheel to launch the final sprint and was almost unmatched in the dash for the line – at least until Moschetti came in with a fast finish.
The Italian, who won last year’s race, came off the wheel and looked as though he might have just nipped it at the death, but would have to settle for a second place by the slimmest of margins this season.
Results powered by FirstCycling