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Fabio Jakobsen makes emotional return to racing at Tour of Turkey

Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep)
Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep) made an emotional return to racing at the Tour of Turkey on Sunday, eight months after his life-threatening crash at the Tour de Pologne. 

The Dutch rider was seen smiling in the peloton and waved to the television camera when they searched him out during the stage. He rode alongside his Deceuninck-Quickstep teammates for the shortened 72.4km stage around Konya but other riders also searched him out to welcome him back into the peloton.

“Today was a really nice day. In the morning, when I pulled on the Deceuninck-QuickStep jersey, I had a special feeling, which is difficult to put into words, especially as it came after so many months of watching my teammates race on TV and perform well,” Jakobsen explained after finishing safely in the peloton after a the hectic sprint won by fellow Dutch rider Arvid de Kleijn (Rally Cycling).  

“I love riding my bike and race, so I missed it a lot, that’s why I am extremely happy to be here. It’s great to finish a race.

“In the first part of the stage, many riders – some of my generation, but also some older ones – came to me to exchange some words and it was a very touching moment when they told me how happy they were to see me back and how they all wished me well. It was special for me too, it feels good to be back. 

“After the stage, I checked my phone and I saw the messages I got from so many riders and fans, to whom I want to thank very much. It’s emotional to see all this outpouring of support on this special day. 

“It makes me proud to make it this far. To see that other people are happy, almost as happy as I am, is a special feeling and makes me want to perform.” 

Jakobsen hadn't raced since the opening stage of the Tour de Pologne on August 6 when Dylan Groenewegen veered across the road in Katowice at 80kph, sending him ploughing into the barriers. He suffered a long list of injuries after hitting the barrier head first, including a crushed palate, the loss of several teeth, and serious head trauma.

He has been through a long process of surgery and rehabilitation and faces more procedures and check-ups plus dental work to rebuild his smile. Groenewegen was banned for nine months for his actions in the sprint and will return to racing next month at the Tour of Hungary.

Jakobsen was a successful sprinter before the crash, who was not afraid to dive into sprints in pursuit of victory. However, he admitted he was slightly scared on his return to the peloton in Turkey. 

“I must admit that in the beginning, when they swung right and left and the bunch had to brake a couple of times, I got a bit scared, but the second time it was less and almost home, then afterwards everything was fine,” he said. 

“I even went to the head of the peloton and stayed in Iljo Keisse’s wheel, who was pulling, as I just wanted to enjoy being at the front of the bunch again and being part of the team.

“With ten kilometers to go, I got lost a bit and couldn’t be there for the team in the finale, but being able to conclude my first race in so many months makes me proud and gives me a lot of confidence that I will improve going into next week. I look forward to being of more help for my teammates in the coming stages and enjoy every single moment I spend here.”