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Giro d’Italia 2024: Olav Kooij makes late break for stage nine victory in Naples
Cycling Sport

Giro d’Italia 2024: Olav Kooij makes late break for stage nine victory in Naples

Olav Kooij snatched victory in stunning style to win stage nine of the Giro d’Italia. After the final climb of the day on the 214km route from Avezzano to Napoli, Julian Alaphilippe led the leading group but was soon overtaken by Jhonatan Narváez.

The Ineos Grenadiers rider looked on track for victory with 5km to go, but the peloton quickly caught up with him to produce a thrilling finish in the final kilometre where a brilliant sprint from Kooij saw him triumph.

The Dutch rider just pipped Jonathan Milan at the finish line by centimetres to earn his 33rd win as a professional and his first victory in a Grand Tour, something he admits he has dreamed about.

“This was the step I was looking for, I was really looking forward to my first Grand Tour. I think this one is really one I was dreaming of,” the Team Visma–Lease a Bike rider said.

“This is what we were looking for, to get a stage win, the first two didn’t go perfect and today we had to fight for it because it was a really tough final. Today we had to just not really stick too much to one plan but just see how the race went, how it evolved and do what was necessary to get me in position.”

Tadej Pogacar retained the pink jersey and praised UAE Team Emirates teammate Juan Sebastián Molano for his third-placed finish in Sunday’s race.

He said: “I haven’t become a lead-out man but Molano did a very good job to be at the front in the finale. He didn’t get the win but third is a good result and I was happy to help a friend.

“I have a comfortable advantage before the first rest day. It’s nice to relax in Napoli. We already have seen beautiful sceneries since the start of the Giro. Here I’ll add some pizza to make it pleasant for sure before we resume racing on Tuesday.”

Daniel Felipe Martínez is second in the general classification while Geraint Thomas, who was involved in a crash during stage nine, remains third.

Source: theguardian.com