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Young Dutchman Olav Kooij took his second WorldTour sprint stage and delivered for Jumbo-Visma a day after their GC leader Jonas Vingegaard was bested.
Kooij was stuck to Mads Pedersen’s wheel coming into the finale, just as he was on the race’s second stage, but this time was able to use the splitstream to jump out of the Trek-Segafredo rider’s shadow and come round him at the line.
Kooij become the third sprinter to take a stage at this year’s Paris-Nice after Tim Merlier (Soudal – Quick-Step) won the opening day of the race and Pedersen claimed victory stage two.
Speaking after the stage Kooij said: “It’s really nice to beat the best sprinters in the world. I won a few races last year but this is the nicest so far.”
He had come second to Pedersen on stage two which made the reversal of the positions today sweeter. “I was a bit far back under the flamme rouge,” said Kooij. “And then I took the left side of the roundabout, that, I think, was a good choice. I was in the wheel of Pedersen and this time I was able to get out of his wheel
“Coming close and coming second is not bad but it’s the victories that count.”
It’ll be a boost for his team who, after winning stage three’s team time trial, would have hoped for victory yesterday with Jonas Vingegaard but were bettered by GC leader Tadej Pogačar.
The final few hundred metres were the only moments of drama on a day that was notable only for how relaxed the peloton decided to take it.
For a moment it looked like the sprinters might be denied a final opportunity as Ben Swift launched himself off the front of the peloton as it came around a roundabout with just 1km to go.
Pedersen may have come second on the day but he did enough to take the lead of the green jersey competition by right, today he had been wearing the jersey but overall leader Tadej Pogačar actually held it by right.
In the general classification Pogačar saw his lead cut to six seconds after Davide Gaudu, sat second on GC, took the six seconds at the intermediate sprint and Pogačar came third to get two seconds.
After the stage the Slovenian said: “The tension was rising before the climb. I did a bit of a mistake, I tried to pass on the right but there was no space, only two [seconds] today.”
PARIS-NICE 2023, STAGE five: Stage 5 Saint-Symphorien-sur-Coise > Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux (212km)
1. Olav Kooij (Ned) Jumbo-Visma in 5-19-54
2. Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo
3. Tim Merlier (Bel) Soudal – Quick-Step
4. Matteo Trentin (Ita) UAE Emirates
5. Max Kanter (Ger) Movistar
6. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Cofidis
7. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora – Hansgrohe
8. Arne Marit (Bel) Intermarche – Circus – Wanty
9.Hugo Page (Fra) Intermarche – Circus – Wanty
10. Cees Bol (Ned) Astana Qazaqstan all at s.t.
General classification after stage five
1. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates, in 17-14-52
2. David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 6s
3. Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma, at 46s
4. Simon Yates (GBr) Jayco AlUla, at 58s
5. Gino Mäder (Sui) Bahrain Victorious, at 1-21
6. Romain Bardet (Fra) Team DSM at 1-42
7. Dani Martínez (Col) Ineos Grenadiers, both at s.t.
8. Matteo Jorgenson (USA) Movistar, at 1-44
9. Neilson Powless (USA) EF Education-EasyPost, at 1-46
10. Matteo Sobrero (Ita) Jayco AlUla, at 1-56