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Olav Kooij wins crash-marred sprint opener at Tour of Denmark

Olav Kooij (Jumbo-Visma) snatched victory on the opening stage of the Tour of Denmark, beating Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) to the line after a messy run-in.

The 20-year-old Dutchman broke free of his own lead-out man to track Philipsen down the left-hand side of the road before hitting out and outmuscling the Belgian Timothy Dupont (Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB) claimed the final spot on the podium but it was very much a two-horse race.

Kooij takes the first yellow jersey of the five-stage race, with the main peloton all awarded the same time given the crash occurred within the final 3km.

How it unfolded

The opening stage of the Tour of Denmark took the riders on a largely flat 222.6km journey from Allerød to Køge, finishing with three laps of an 11km circuit.

There was a five-man breakaway made up of: Adrian Banaszek (HRE Mazowsze Serce Polski), Mads Kristensen (ColoQuick), Lunder Erik Lunder (Team Coop), Niklas Pedersen (Denmark), Rasmus Wallin, and Sebastian Nielsen (Restaurant Saru-Carl Ras).

They opened a lead of a few minutes, with Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) among those to police the gap from the peloton on his return to racing after his life-threatening crash eight months go.

Lunder fell away from the breakaway on the first of the local laps, as a crash took out several riders, including Uno-X sprinter Rasmus Tiller. The remaining four reached the end of the first lap with a lead of just over 30 seconds, with Pedersen attacking to be the last survivor, caught just beyond the line as the bell sounded for the final lap.

From there, it was all about the sprint set-up, and Alpecin-Deceuninck and DSM combined before Jumbo-Visma hit the front with 4km to go. QuickStep-AlphaVinyl were nowhere to be seen until the 2km to go mark, when they swarmed to the front en masse to take the lead through that left-hander with 1,500m to go. Four of them got through, but two went down as a pile-up left a sizeable chunk of the bunch stranded.

QuickStep rolled on and they got to their last lead-out man, Michael Mørkøv, but Vernon had become detached from his wheel, and it wasn't the only scrambled train. The rider who was on Mørkøv's wheel was in fact Christophe Laporte, who in turn opened the taps thinking he was leading out Kooij. But the young Dutchman had himself lost Laporte and decided to latch onto Philipsen on the left-hand side, taking his slipstream as the Belgian opened up.

Philipsen launched a powerful sprint but Kooij hit the wind and gradually gained and gained. Philipsen launched a desperate bike throw but Kooij already had it wrapped up.

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