Fabio Jakobsen hails European road title ‘one of the biggest victories in my career’
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Fabio Jakobsen confirmed once again he’s got some of the fastest legs in the peloton.
The Dutch speedster beat back a who’s-who of bunch sprinters in Munich to win the white-and-blue European champion’s jersey in what was a palmarès topping result Sunday.
“It’s probably one of the biggest victories in my career,” Jakobsen said.
Jakobsen blasted past top-tier sprinters Arnaud Démare and Tim Merlier to top the podium Sunday.
It was just three weeks since the 25-year-old was done gutting out a rookie Tour de France with Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl in what was one of the hottest and hardest editions of the race in memory.
“I had a good feeling at the Tour, even though it was hard and I had the idea I was in good shape,” Jakobsen said. “I recovered afterward and this was the next big goal. We knew it was probably going to be a sprint and we focused toward here.”
A largely flat parcours around southern Germany drew a festival of fast finishers to the race Sunday.
Giacomo Nizzolo, Sam Bennett, Pascal Ackermann, Elia Viviani and Alexander Kristoff were just some of the pure-pedigree sprinters aiming for success in a rare opportunity for a sprinter to win a special jersey.
“I think the European championship is just a step below world champion so it’s nice to win. I’m proud of this jersey and I’m going to wear it with honor for a year,” Jakobsen said of his star-studded new top.
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It was just over two years since Jakobsen’s career was put at threat by his horror crash in the Tour of Poland.
“Winning at the Vuelta [in 2021] was what tipped the balance in my comeback. I said to myself ‘right, you’re back at your top level now,’” Jakobsen said Sunday.
“I’m happy not to have lost power or strength in that crash in Poland, that was such a hard fall.”
Six grand tour stages and one European title later, Pologne seems firmly in the past.
When rivals become teammates
Like so many finishers before him, Jakobsen flourished in the Quick-Step sprint train in recent seasons.
Leadout masters like Michael Mørkøv and Bert Van Lerberghe piloted the young star to victories at the Vuelta a España, Tour de France, Kuurne Brussel Kuurne and countless more.
Sunday saw a totally different scenario.
A Dutch team made up of riders like Danny van Poppel, Jos van Emden and Nils Eekhoff saw contributors from all corners of the WorldTour.
Jakobsen hailed his motley array of rivals-turned teammates, with Bora-Hansgrohe leadout man Van Poppel getting the top nod.
“If you win, it’s always a good sprint, but I have to start with the whole team. We’re all from separate commercial teams and we tried to create a real team here, and I think we succeeded,” Jakobsen said.
“They all did a perfect job and I’m super proud of them, especially Danny van Poppel. He put me in Merlier’s wheel and I could go in his slipstream and push power and make speed, and I’m super happy I could win.”
Van Poppel is more used to working for his trade-team sprinter Sam Bennett. The Irishman finished fifth Sunday, just one place behind his Bora-Hansgrohe buddy Van Poppel.
“Jakobsen and me have been in the room together. There we agreed on some things because it takes some getting used to each other for a sprint,” Van Poppel told Wielerflits.
“For example, Sam Bennett stays in my wheel, while Fabio chooses his own way, after which we find each other closer to the last line. I already did some good lead-outs this year, it gets you a lot of praise. For me, it’s just as good as a win.”