Kooij, who was second in the first stage on Tuesday in Varaždin, positioned himself much better before the final sprint, broke out at the head of the main group about 100 meters before the finish line and won over Israeli Itamar Einhorn (Israel Start-Up Nation) in 2nd and Australian Caden Groves (Team Bikeexchange) in 3rd, reports HRT.
“Today’s stage was much more demanding than yesterday’s, but it suited me. In the continuation of the race, even more demanding exams await us, but I am ready,” said only 19-year-old Kooij, who likes racing in Croatia.
The young Dutchman has already achieved two victories in Croatia, in GP Umag and GP Poreč in the early spring of 2020.
Kooij also took the lead in the blue T-shirt standings for the best sprinter in the CRO Race.
In the 2nd stage, the fight to escape lasted a bit longer than in the first, but shortly after the start in Slunj, six cyclists stood out from the leading group – Poles Marcin Budzinski (HRE Mazowsze Serce Polski) and Mateusz Grabis (Voster ATS Team), Belgian Laurens Huys (Bingoal Pauwels Saucers WB), Slovenian Boštjan Murn (Adria Mobil), German Dominik Roeber (P & S Metalltechnik) and Austrian Manuel Bosch (Felbermayr Simplon Wels).
At the first passing goal in Plitvice Lakes, Budzinski was first in front of Grabis and Roeber. In the first ascent of the day towards Varičaci, two Kern Pharma drivers, Spaniard Jaime Castrillo and Russian Sava Novikov, stood out from the peloton. The duo quickly reached the top six, but Budzinski was ahead of Castrillo and Roeber.
The maximum advantage the eight cyclists had over the leading group was a little more than four minutes, but already during the descent towards Otočac and the first passage through the finish line, it dropped to three and a half minutes. During the first passage through the finish line in Otočac, Grabis was first in front of Castrillo and Roeber. On the most challenging climb of the day, Castrillo stood out from the leading group, who won the mountain finish in Kuterevo and thus took the lead in the overall standings for best climber. He will wear a green shirt in the third stage on Thursday.
Castrillo remained alone in the lead until about 20 kilometers before the finish and won the passing goal in Perušić.
The third stage from Primošten to Makarska (167 kilometers long) is scheduled for Thursday.
September 30, 3rd stage: Primošten – Makarska (167km)
October 1, 4th stage: Zadar – Crikvenica (197km)
October 2, 5th stage: Rabac / Labin – Opatija (137.5km)
October 3, 6th stage: Samobor – Zagreb (156.5km)
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