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Challenge of Stars: Jakobsen wins battle of the sprinters

VALENCIA SPAIN FEBRUARY 09 Arrival Fabio Jakobsen of The Netherlands and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Celebration during the 71st Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana 2020 Stage 5 a 977km stage from Paterna Valencia VueltaCV VCV2020 on February 09 2020 in Valencia Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images
(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep) won the first event in the Challenge of Stars virtual race series on Saturday, beating Filippo Ganna (Team Ineos) in the final.

Saturday's race was billed as a battle of the sprinters, pitting eight fast finishers against each other in a head-to-head format.

The heats were run on a 1.2km course on the BKool platform, with an average gradient of 0.97 per cent and a maximum of 2.53 per cent, and riders could slipstream their rival before launching a sprint for the line.

Jakobsen dispatched world champion Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) with ease in his opening heat and was convincing again in his semi-final, despite coming up against a stronger sprinter in the form of Pascal Ackermann. While Jakobsen went all-out and fought with the bike, Ackermann didn’t appear to go so deep and was left well behind.

Jakobsen lined up against Ganna in the final, and found the Italian in his slipstream for much of the early part of the race. With 700 metres to go he started to wind it up and although Ganna fought to get back on terms, he suddenly slowed, coming to a standstill at one point, as Jakobsen cruised clear to take the victory.

Ganna later revealed his gears had jammed.

"I noticed I got a little nervous before the race," Jakobsen admitted. "You have to look at the screen and your opponent. I just tried to stay as close to them as possible, then with around 400-500 metres to go I gave everything I had and I tried to destroy the bike and just sprint until the line."

Ganna’s route to the final had seen him beat CCC Team’s Matteo Trentin in the first round before getting the better of Jasper De Buyst, a late replacement for Lotto Soudal teammate Caleb Ewan, who was suffering with a knee problem.

"I was a little bit unlucky in the finish – I crashed my gears, and that's it," Ganna said.

Ganna wasn't the only rider to suffer mechanical problems, with Nacer Bouhanni (Arkea-Samsic) unable to start, thus handing Ackermann a first-round bye.


Heat 1
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Fabio Jakobsen (Ned) Deceuninck-QuickStep
2Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo

Heat 2
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal
2Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix)

Heat 3
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Filippo Ganna (Ita) Team Ineos
2Matteo Trentin (Ita) CCC Team

Heat 4
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
2Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Arkea-Samsic

Semi-final 1
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Fabio Jakobsen (Ned) Deceuninck-QuickStep
2Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe

Semi-final 2
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Filippo Ganna (Ita) Team Ineos
2Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Fabio Jakobsen (Ned) Deceuninck-QuickStep
2Filippo Ganna (Ita) Team Ineos
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