Giro d’Italia: Olav Kooij produces perfectly-timed finish to win stage nine

Dutch sprinter Olav Kooij produced a perfectly-timed finish to win stage nine of the Giro d’Italia in Naples.

Stage one winner Jhonatan Narvaez looked to have stolen victory with a stunning solo counter-attack 6km from the finish.

But the Ecuadorean was caught in the final 100m as the peloton piled past him and Visma-Lease a Bike’s Kooij claimed his first Grand Tour stage victory by half a wheel from Lidl-Trek’s Jonathan Milan.

“This was the step I was looking for,” said 22-year-old Kooij after taking the spoils in the 214km route along the Tyrrhenian coast from Avezzano.

“I was really looking forward to my first Grand Tour and this is really one I was dreaming of.”

Tadaj Pogacar maintained his overall lead after unusually helping to lead out fellow UAE Team Emirates rider Juan Sebastian Molano, who finished third.

“Today was a super hard finale and Molano did a super good job to be in the front with us and I tried to help,” said the Slovenian race leader, who takes a healthy two minutes 40 second lead into Monday’s first rest day.

“It was not enough for the victory but if I can help, especially in this hectic finale, it is better for me to be in the front and help my friend to try for victory.”

On the margin of his overall lead, he added: “It’s a comfortable gap to go into the rest day. I’m looking forward to an easy day tomorrow and try not to think about the race for one day.”

Britain’s Geraint Thomas was involved in a crash before the run into Naples, but recovered to finish among the peloton and remains in third place overall, 18 seconds behind second-placed Colombian rider Dani Martinez.

The Giro resumes on Tuesday with stage 10 – a 142km route from Pompeii that includes an 18km climb to the finish in Cusano Mutri.

SOURCE: BBC Sport   (go to source)
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