After a crash that threatened his career as well as his life, Fabio Jakobsen has voiced his desire to return to professional racing and has set a target of doing so within a year.
Earlier this week, the Dutchman posted a social media update with a photo of his first bike ride outdoors since his August crash at the Tour de Pologne, and a first public photograph since he underwent maxillofacial surgery to repair his injuries.
He now intends to step up his progress in the new year as he travels to Spain to join his Deceuninck-QuickStep teammates on a pre-season training camp.
Speaking to Belgian broadcaster Sporza, Deceuninck-QuickStep team doctor Yvan Vanmol suggested the extent of the superficial damage suffered by Jakobsen, who was induced into a coma, were 'exaggerated', and that the main concern has always been whether he can race his bike again.
"There have been stories about Fabio, that every bone in his face was broken, that his windpipe was crushed, that he had 1,000 stitches. The damage was great, but there was a lot of exaggeration," Vanmol said.
"The aesthetic was not the main concern. You know that a lot is possible nowadays. The question of whether you will ever be able to practice your profession again was taken much more seriously."
The January training camp should provide a clearer indication over if and when the 24-year-old could return to the level that earned him 18 wins in his first two-and-a-half years as a professional.
"What could be the most difficult for him is the significant physical disadvantage he has suffered. We will mainly have to adjust his training load to what he can still do and not what he already wants. I think his ambition is to be back sooner than a year from now," Vanmol said.
"For Fabio, the next step now is to see how he digests training rides. He just got back from a vacation. Before that he already cycled but he felt tired after an hour and a half or two. On Wednesday he told me that he is now clearly feeling better physically. His holiday has also done him good mentally to reset the head."
As well as the physical challenges, Vanmol admitted there will be a psychological hurdle after crashing at such speed and with such force. At the team camp, Jakobsen will largely ride alone, only doing some rides in small groups.
"On the camp, Fabio will immediately know how he feels about cycling in a group. And if necessary we will guide him in this. Just like we sometimes do with riders who have problems with descents.
"The steps to be able to cycle and train again are going in the right direction, but the end goal is to dare to race again in a competitive situation."
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