Sprinter Olav Kooij, his superstar lead-out Wout van Aert and the whole Jumbo-Visma outfit have dominated the Tour of Britain‘s opening four stages with four wins, all of them through Kooij, which equalled Edvald Boasson Hagen’s record of consecutive stage victories from 2009.
Van Aert had high praise for his teammate before the start of stage 4 in Edwinstowe after the team had combined for a hat-trick of perfect lead-outs and sprints, even seeing the possibility for Kooij to reach sprinting supremacy in future.
“He has the potential to be the best sprinter in the world,” Van Aert told Cyclingnews. “I think he’s already close to it and he definitely has the speed and I think as you say he’s young so automatically by getting older he will get an even bigger engine to arrive fresher to the final.”
Stage 4 in Newark was the closest their perfect record in Britain came to ending as the seemingly unflappable quartet of Edoardo Affini, Nathan Van Hooydonck, Van Aert and Kooij lost each other around a corner with 3.7km to go due to a traffic island and got reshuffled.
At no point did Kooij panic, however, and the team quickly got back into shape and began to work their way back to the front of proceedings. Once their desired order was restored with Kooij sat in prime position, his fourth win was inevitable.
“Even though we were quite close to the finish, there will always be a moment to move up, especially with those guys in front of me,” Kooij told Cyclingnews. “They are strong enough to go through the wind and move up if really necessary.
“It’s never really smooth to get to that last 200 metres, so you know it’s part of it and sometimes you just need to stay calm and know your time will come to move up or find the wheel again.”
With the way they’ve rode in tandem, they seem to be well-accustomed to racing with each other, but their calendars tell quite an opposing story with Van Aert and Kooij riding near-opposite schedules and rarely lining up with each other to split Jumbo-Visma‘s sprint options.
“Actually, we are still building a real connection because we haven’t raced too much with each other. We did a few one-day races before in Belgium and it’s super nice to be successful all the time so far [at the Tour of Britain],” said Van Aert.
“Olav is doing really well and for me, it’s nice to have something different for once and to just race relaxed and enjoy the team performances.”
Kooij stated a similar appreciation of the new partnership after the first stage,…