"This seemed like a great race to resume competition" - Olav Kooij returns to action and leads Visma at Baloise Belgium Tour

For the first time since being forced out of the first Grand Tour of his career through illness, Team Visma | Lease a Bike's Olav Kooij will return to racing at the upcoming Baloise Belgium Tour.

"The goal was to win a stage, so if that succeeds, that's great. I look back on it with a very special feeling," Kooij reflects of his debut Giro d'Italia experience in conversation with Team Visma | Lease a Bike's official website, having the highlight of victory on stage 9 to look back upon. Sadly though, that was the 22-year-old's last action at the Giro as he abandoned on the first rest day. "Yes, that was quite a turnaround. At that point you are no longer preoccupied with the euphoria, but the feeling of illness dominates. It is hard to leave the race when you know there are still some sprint opportunities to come."

Now though, the focus returns to racing for Kooij at the 2024 Baloise Belgium Tour. "This seemed like a great race to resume competition. I'm looking forward to racing again, it's been a while. I'm heading to Belgium with confidence and good spirits," he previews full of optimism. "When you have been out for a while, it is always the question how you are doing. I hope to regain the good feeling and compete for stage wins. This year there are several good sprinters at the start, so that makes it extra nice."

Leading a strong Team Visma | Lease a Bike lineup that also includes Per Strand Hagenes, Edoardo Affini, Mick van Dijke, Tosh Van der Sande, Julien Vermote and Colby Simmons, Kooij can see plenty of opportunity for success in the race. "Per will be our main man (in the GC ed.), but Mick and Edoardo can also do a good time trial. We start with a strong team and look ahead with a lot of ambition," Kooij concludes.

Team Visma | Lease a Bike for 2024 Baloise Belgium Tour:

Olav Kooij
Per Strand Hagenes
Mick van Dijke
Edoardo Affini
Colby Simmons
Julien Vermote
Tosh van der Sande

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