"I'm only 21 years old and still have to learn what it means to ride in a Grand Tour" - Olav Kooij optimistic but realises Grand Tour debut may be a challenge in stacked Jumbo-Visma squad

Despite being just 21 years old, Jumbo-Visma's Dutch sensation Olav Kooij is already proving himself as one of the fastest sprinters in the peloton. 11 wins this season, how long before he gets a chance in one of cycling's biggest races?

Despite sprinting being his primary talent, Kooij also has big ambitions as a Classics rider in the future. “There are indeed several examples that have made such a switch. I rode some great races in Ghent-Wevelgem and De Panne this spring. That as a sprinter type I felt that I could also handle more difficult competitions and compete for victory in the coming years," Kooij explains to RIDE Magazine. "However, there is still a big difference between these classics and the monuments. I don't see myself making the switch to those great classics very quickly. I think I will always remain a sprinter. However, there are a number of classics that the sprinters may or may not be able to handle. These are competitions that I would like to focus on and that I can hopefully win one day.”

Kooij is yet to truly prove his level on the biggest stage though, still waiting for his Grand Tour debut. With Jumbo-Visma having such a stacked squad and big general classification ambitions however, it's hard to find room for a star sprinter. Nevertheless, Kooij remains hopeful of a first Grand Tour in 2024.

“Hopefully, I will make my debut in the Giro d'Italia or the Vuelta a España next year," the 21-year-old optimistically looks forward. "That is something I am really looking forward to. I have a great program and I also receive every confidence from the team.”

“When choosing to stay with Jumbo-Visma, I mainly looked at how I could further develop with this team in the coming years. It was certainly not a must for me to start the Tour de France next," he continues. "I'm only 21 years old and still have to learn what it means to ride in a Grand Tour. I don't think you should rush too much to start the Tour anyway. There are plenty of other great goals to achieve first.”

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