"We were hoping for a win. Unfortunately it was not to be" - More crashes plaque Visma as Olav Kooij denied sprint chance on final stage of Baloise Belgium Tour

Returning to racing for the first time since being forced to abandon the 2024 Giro d'Italia due to illness, Olav Kooij was unable to depart the Baloise Belgium Tour with a win added to his palmares.

Most disappointingly, on the final stage, Kooij was denied a chance to even sprint for the win as a late crash scuppered any and all of his hopes of victory. "It's unfortunate. We were very well placed, but it is what it is,” Team Visma | Lease a Bike sports director Maarten Wynants reflected afterwards in conversation with his team's official website. "It was hard racing, so a crash can happen easily. That's part of cycling unfortunately, but it's extra sour that we caused it ourselves."

The sprint field at the 2024 Baloise Belgium Tour was of incredibly high quality, with Kooij joined by sprint rivals such as Jasper Philipsen and Tim Merlier among others. "With sprinters like Merlier and Jasper Philipsen at the start, stage wins were anything but up for grabs this week," Wynants continues however. "We were already second and third with Olav, so today we were hoping for a win. Unfortunately it was not to be, but next week there are races again. New opportunities await. That too is the beauty of the sport."

Nevertheless, it wasn't a completely disappointing week in Belgium for Team Visma | Lease a Bike as Per Strand Hagenes secured himself a top-10 finish in the general classification, finishing 28 seconds down on overall winner, Uno-X Mobility's Soren Waerenskjold. "Per had a good week," Wynants concludes his reflection of the race. "In the queen stage on Saturday, he had to let the strongest riders go. He kept going for it and he kept fighting. Against this field of competitors, the podium was a difficult goal. He can look back on a fine performance in this stage race."

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