Fabio Jakobsen has tried to dismiss any intra-team rivalry between himself and Mark Cavendish for QuickStep-AlphaVinyl's sprinter role at the 2022 Tour de France, accepting that the best, on form sprinter, will have the highly coveted role in July.
Jakobsen and Cavendish have an excellent relationship and have helped and supported each other as they overcame their injuries and returned to their best sprinting form. However QuickStep-AlphaVinyl team manager Patrick Lefevere has made it clear that the Belgian team will only take one sprinter to the Tour de France.
Speaking at QuickStep's press conference ahead of the Opening Weekend, where he'll race Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, Jakobsen tried to play down any sense of rivalry with Cavendish.
"I think we all said the same thing," he said, referring to comments from himself, Cavendish and Lefevere about who will race the Tour. "But I guess you want to end up with the rivalry," he added, with a hint of sarcasm, unhappy to face constant questions about the matter.
"I've been in this team for four or five years. I started at the bottom, so I'm kind of used to this, and like I said, it's my planning goes towards [the Tour]."
At the team's media day in Calpe last month, Jakobsen had suggested that the Tour was in his plans, while noting that Cavendish would instead head to the Giro d'Italia. Now, however, he suggested that he is simply planning as though he'll start. Meanwhile, team boss Patrick Lefevere has remained coy on the situation.
"That's a very interesting question," he said in January. "Everybody asks me that question, especially the press."
Last week Lefevere said that he has a long list for the Tour and added that, "The best one will go to the Tour. Cavendish is already on the list for the Giro. Then we'll see."
As it stands, both Jakobsen and Cavendish have enjoyed winning starts to the season, with the 25-year-old Dutchman taking two wins apiece at the Vuelta a la Comunitat Valenciana and Volta ao Algarve, along with a pair of points jerseys to boot. Cavendish, 11 years Jakobsen's elder, has taken a stage win at both the Tour of Oman and the UAE Tour.
So far, both men have 'shared' the usage of star lead out man Mørkøv, with line-ups this early in the season certainly giving no indication as to the team's preference for July.
Jakobsen accepted that it will be a simple solution: whichever man is in the best shape will be QuickStep-AlphaVinyl's sprinter for the Tour.
"As Patrick said, if I'm not in shape, Cav can go. And Cav also has plans. So that's the thing. And in the end, it's always the best that goes, you know? We don't hand out selections in December — it's just the planning," Jakobsen said.
"We are winning races and that's what we are bike riders for and like I said, the best will go. It's like Patrick said, like Brian Holm said, as Tom Steels will say, as everybody in the team will say, and I guess we will see who that is."
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Daniel Ostanek is Senior News Writer at Cyclingnews, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later being hired full-time. Prior to joining the team, he had written for numerous major publications in the cycling world, including CyclingWeekly, Rouleur, and CyclingTips.
Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France and the spring Classics, and has interviewed many of the sport's biggest stars, including Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Demi Vollering, and Anna van der Breggen.
As well as original reporting, news and feature writing, and production work, Daniel also oversees The Leadout newsletter and How to Watch guides throughout the season. His favourite races are Strade Bianche and the Volta a Portugal.