It was six months ago that Fabio Jakobsen made headlines for all the wrong reasons, suffering severe injuries in a catastrophic crash at the finish of the opening stage of the Tour de Pologne. The long road to recovery has included multiple surgeries, but he attended the Deceuninck-QuickStep team camp in January, where he posted on social media “over the moon to be back!”
Teammate and lead-out man Michael Mørkøv has been training with Jakobsen this winter, and told news outlet Feltet.dk that he thought the Dutch sprinter was not only close to being ready to take the start line again, but to be part of the action.
“He is doing really, really well. I have been training with him recently and he looks really good,” Mørkøv told Feltet.dk.
“He is at a good level. I do not think it will be long before he is at the forefront of the races again."
Jakobsen participated in the team camp in Spain, not in racing mode as he was scheduled for another surgery for dental implants, but to ride his bike and enjoy time with teammates for motivational reasons.
After being elbowed into the barriers in the high-speed sprint in Katowice by Jumbo-Visma’s Dylan Groenewegen, Jakobsen crashed through the roadside barriers, his face taking the worst of the impact on the metal edge of the fencing. The 24-year-old later listed his injuries to a Dutch journalist, which included “Brain contusion. Fractured skull, Palate broken and torn. Ten teeth gone. Parts of my upper and lower jaws gone…” as well as a list of cuts, bruises and nerve damage.
From team camp, Jakobsen was positive, talking to media at a press conference.
"Right now, I'm riding my bike again. I'm doing training rides with the guys here. Not all the rides and sometimes I take a shortcut to the hotel but the feeling on the bike is OK," Jakobsen said. "This team is like a family, we spend time with each other, we care for each other, I think I can say we love each other in a positive way."
Now two weeks removed from camp, Mørkøv could not say when he would see his teammate in the lineup, but was confident of a return this season.
For his 2021 campaign, the Grand Tour veteran said he would focus on setting up Sam Bennett for the big races, which he did last year to help the Irish sprinter secure the green jersey at the Tour de France. Bennett is scheduled to participate in the UAE Tour, Paris-Nice and Tour de France, among others, and Mørkøv said that he hoped to be part of the support cast at these races.
"The plan is for me to ride with Sam for most of the season. Basically, I start in the UAE Tour, and then I race Paris-Nice,” said Mørkøv. “I'm usually with Sam in most races, and then we also have Shane Archbold. Depending on which races it is about, different riders will come to support us in the sprints."
Deceuninck-QuickStep is expected to line up Archbold to support Mark Cavendish on February 14 for the Clásica de Almería.
Cavendish added his report about Jakobsen to Instagram a week ago, posting: “It’s special that at 35 years old, I can still get inspired every day by seeing someone ride. The cycling world knows what [Fabio Jakobsen] has unfortunately got to come back from. It’s not nice, but I feel honoured to witness how deep somebody can go, how much fight and desire they have in them to return, and how unafraid of being seen to suffer they are. Watch this kid smoke the world again. There’ll be a film about it.”
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