Fabio Jakobsen, with an aim at contesting the only remaining sprint stage on the Champs-Élysées on Sunday, just barely made it to the finish of stage 17 on the altiport at Peyragudes with only 15 [corrected from 18 - ed.] seconds to spare before being time cut.
The Dutchman cut a lonely figure on the viciously steep final 200 metres, a distance that would take a couple seconds on a sprint stage but on the category 1 climb took him an agonizing minute to complete.
His teammates Yves Lampaert and Florian Sénéchal cheering him on and his directors waiting to catch him after the line, Jakobsen collapsed against the barriers as he fought to regain his breath.
"The whole day he set the pace that he wanted to do, but this is the Tour and we all know the time limits are very short, very tight," QuickStep-AlphaVinyl director Tom Steels said.
"At the Tour they ride fast, in the front it was full race on. OK - he made it. Let's hope he recovers for tomorrow and that will be one more day."
🚴🏼♂️🎙🇫🇷🎥🇳🇱 #TourDeFrance #TDF2022 #timelimit #fabiojakobsen Frissons! Oui, le cyclisme est un sport d’équipe! @yveslampaert et @flosenech en feu pour encourager @FabioJakobsen sauvé pour quelques secondes! 🔥👊@LeTour @RTBFsport @RTBFinfo @vivacite @CFootRTBF @Quik_s #velortbf pic.twitter.com/yXdZfXSP62July 20, 2022
Riding in his first Tour de France, Fabio Jakobsen supplanted last year's four-time stage winner green jersey winner Mark Cavendish in his team's selection with an aim of winning stages. He made that dream come true on stage 2 in Denmark when he edged out Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo).
He was out the back on stage 10 to Megève - but not struggling as much as Lotto Soudal sprinter Caleb Ewan. But on stage 11, Jakobsen was again at the tail end of the peloton on the Col du Granon with Mørkøv at his side, 40 minutes behind the stage winner and new race leader Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma).
On stage 12 to l'Alpe d'Huez, Jakobsen was in the dead-last group again with Mørkøv, in the autobus on stage 13 to Saint-Etienne, and missed the front group on the sprint stage to Carcassonne on a day when Mørkøv struggled ahead of the broom wagon and missed the time cut.
Jakobsen made the autobus on Tuesday's stage to Foix, but without his wingman Mørkøv and Asgreen, he was left to his own struggles on stage 17, burying himself to make it to the top of the final climb before the time limit expired.
The stage time limit is determined by the winner's time and average speed. Today's cut was 37:01. He made it by just 15 seconds, finishing the stage in 3:36:48 and, cheered on by his teammates, was pushed to the team bus to fight another day.
For a rider who nearly lost his life in a crash in the Tour de Pologne just two years ago, finishing the stage in Peyragudes was yet another example of Jakobsen's fighting spirit.
"Today was just full gas all day," Steels said. "There was nothing to do with a lot of calculations. He was full gas all day, he rode the whole day on the limit. We know on that part he needs to improve a bit to be more comfortable.
"He has a lot of character that he showed today. That's something he needed today. He had it a lot already a lot to come back from his injury and now he had it also to survive in the mountain stages."
He has to - he has to make it to Paris.
Watch these incredible images!The Wolfpack encouraging @FabioJakobsen in the final meters of the #TDF2022 stage, as he pushes hard to make it inside the time limit by 17 seconds!What a fighter! pic.twitter.com/zgMVP33dOQJuly 20, 2022
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