Fabio Jakobsen’s long battle to recover from his horrific crash at last year’s Tour de Pologne advanced a little further at the Critérium du Dauphiné, when for the first time since that incident the Dutch rider got himself into a position to contest a bunch sprint.
Although he was ultimately defeated by the hill up to the line in Saint-Haon-le-Vieux, Jakobsen described his performance on the race’s third stage, the only clear opportunity for the sprinters in the French stage race, as “another step forward.”
The Dutchman and his Deceuninck-QuickStep team had said prior to the stage that their plan, assuming the stage panned out in the right way, was set him up for the sprint. Going into the final two kilometres, Jakobsen was well placed, but realised he’d expended almost all of his resources getting into that position.
Asked for his view on the sprint, Jakobsen said that he was happy with his performance and positioning.
“To me, it was no sprint. Before we started, we knew already that it was quite a hard last kilometre. I tried my best, but I couldn’t sprint. But I’m really, really happy with the performance because the goal was to ride the final and at the corner with two to go, I think I was in a decent position,” he said.
“If it was flat, then normally I could compete. But I noticed 500-600 metres after the corner that it was already slightly going up and I felt the lactate build-up in the legs. I immediately thought, ‘OK, if the last 600 is going to be worse than this, it’s not going to be for me.’ So immediately I said that I didn’t have legs and that they could switch the plan to Kasper [Asgreen] or Florian [Sénéchal], whoever was feeling good.
“So it was no result for me but I’m happy with my performance and I think it’s another step forward. It’s the first final that I’ve done and I felt quite confident even though the speed was high and the bunch was nervous. I felt at ease so I’m really happy with that.”
Jakobsen said that one of the key issues he’s attempting to come to terms with is the fear that he now feels when the speed and intensity of the peloton rises.
“I think if you’ve been out of racing so long, your body has to get used to it and, of course, everybody is scared, or at least I am. But you need to get over that and try to get confident again, to get that feeling that the other guys in the group also don’t want to crash.
“Step by step, I’m getting the feeling that if there’s a crash, I can move left or right, I can brake and it was actually quite nice to have that adrenalin again in the race. It’s a good feeling. And, like I said, in the last two kilometres I was in a good position, and I think if sometime in the future there’s a sprint stage that’s more suitable to me, I’ll take this experience and use it there.”
The Dutch rider’s objective now will be to try to get through the mountainous final section of the Dauphiné.
“I’ll try to help the other guys as well as I can and I’ll try to finish. Probably the weekend will be hard, but it’s good training and I can use this to build up towards the Nationals and especially towards the end of the year, to regaining the legs I had and the feeling I had in the final. It’s all step by step.”
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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).
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