E.t is a special story that is going on these days at the Vuelta in Spain. The comeback of a professional cyclist, the Dutchman Fabio Jakobsen, who was critically injured a year ago – and has now already won two stages at the Vuelta, most recently on Saturday, and Italian Damiano Caruso on Sunday.
Jakobsen fell badly on the Tour of Poland in Katowice. His life hung by a thread, his career seemed over. “A year ago I was still on a stretcher on the plane that brought me home from Poland,” he said. “Who would have believed at the time that I would drive the Vuelta a year later?” Now he’s not just going. He even wins. And he’s well on his way to becoming one of the world’s best sprinters.
“I am overjoyed to have won here,” said Jakobsen after his day’s success on the eighth stage. “I was the fastest today and I started my sprint on time. I started too late twice at this Vuelta and finished second each time. This time I caught the right moment and was able to pull through. Sprinting is about strength, speed and timing. “
A big mess
This is how he explained his coup. Jakobsen had previously had to survive a few anxious moments. On the last few kilometers he initially lost the rear wheel of his approaching driver. The Deceuninck-Quick-Step “train” was also not as strongly represented in terms of personnel as usual. The headwind in the final had cost a lot of strength.
Numerous reduced sprint trains shot to the top again and again and caused a lot of confusion. Jakobsen, however, kept his nerve. He was the first to open the sprint and first kept the French Arnaud Démare at bay. Then he asserted himself against his strong emerging main rival at this Vuelta, the also two-time stage winner Jasper Philipsen from Belgium.
“We knew that he was fast, but we didn’t know how strong he was,” said Jakobsen’s sporting director Wilfried Peeters at the finish. He was satisfied with the fact that his driver has not only found his explosiveness again. He also has the stamina for long sprints. Most importantly, Jakobsen has apparently mentally processed the terrible accident in Poland so well that there was no fear, no hesitation, no psychological impairment to be noticed in the race.
Jakobsen speaks little about his rehabilitation. But mind and body can withstand the demands of cycling again. As a sprinter, you live extremely off your self-confidence, emphasized Marcel Kittel, Germany’s top sprinter of the past decade, in a recent interview with Tour magazine. “If the self-confidence is no longer there, you are no longer there either. You also get lost as a person. “
This is how the Thuringian described the depths that he himself once experienced and that contributed to his early departure from cycling. The higher is Jakobsen’s performance. How the young Dutchman behaved in the turmoil of the sprint final looked confident. It picks up where it left off two years ago. Jakobsen also scored two stage wins on his Grand Tour debut at the Vuelta 2019, defeating Sam Bennett on the last day in Madrid. The Irishman switched to Quick Step weeks later and was put in front of Jakobsen’s nose in the sprinter hierarchy.
Bennett was also the sprinter on the tour last year, winning two stages, while Jakobsen was sent to the Tour of Poland. In the meantime the cards have been reshuffled in the racing team. Bennett returns to Bora-hansgrohe after an argument with team boss Patrick Lefevere. He was represented phenomenally in France this summer by Mark Cavendish.
The Briton achieved four stage wins on the tour. The contract negotiations with him, however, drag on. “We want Mark on the team. But he shouldn’t overestimate his market value in view of the tour successes, ”said Lefevere, who is still an employer. Every Jakobsen win strengthens the position of the racing team boss in the current salary poker.
Bennett contributed seven successes to the team’s 50 wins this season. Cavendish has taken nine wins since his comeback in April. Jakobsen, who was carefully introduced to racing, ensured four successes. The 24-year-old is currently experiencing a happy phase. His compatriots now even trust him to become world champion in Belgium at the end of September. The course has smaller climbs and cobblestone passages, so it is a classic course. The rainbow jersey would be the culmination of a story that already seems like a fairy tale.