Fabio Jakobsen scorches final sprint to win stage 2 at Vuelta a San Juan

Vuelta a San Juan 2023 40th Edition 2nd stage Valle Fertil Jachal 2011 km 23012023 Fabio Jakobsen NED Soudal Quick Step Fernando Gaviria COL UAE Movistar Team Sam Bennett IRL Bora hansgrohe Jon Aberasturi ESP Trek Segafredo photo Ilario BiondiSprintCyclingAgency2023
Fabio Jakobsen (Soudal-QuickStep) wins stage 2 at 2023 Vuelta a San Juan (Image credit: SprintCyclingAgency)

After a false start on the opening day, Fabio Jakobsen (Soudal-Quickstep) claimed his first win of the new season as he out-kicked Fernando Gaviria (Movistar) and Jon Aberasturi (Trek-Segafredo) on stage 2 of the Vuelta a San Juan in Jáchal.

On the run-in, Jakobsen was able count on the sterling service of world champion Remco Evenepoel, who took up the reins with 3km to go, stringing out the peloton to put QuickStep-Soudal in pole position entering the finishing straight.

Stage 1 winner Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) had to settle for fourth, but although he was outside the time bonuses, he did enough to continue as race leader. Jakobsen is now second overall and tied on time Bennett, with Gaviria is in third at four seconds. 

"Yesterday was a very dangerous final, I think, with a hectic and chaotic final kilometre," Jakobsen said. "But I spoke with the organisation last night. They promised me the final 5km today would be safe and they delivered. It was a nice sprint for all the trains, and it was a fair sprint. I'm happy I had the fastest legs today and I could win."

On Sunday, Jakobsen and his Soudal-QuickStep train were caught out by a split in the road in the finale, an issue exacerbated by spectators encroaching onto the course. The Dutchman, who sustained life-threatening injuries in a crash at the Tour de Pologne in 2020, preferred not to take undue risks. "I was a bit scared," he said. "I don’t want to crash. It’s the start of the season, it’s better to be safe than sorry."

The run-in at Jáchal was mercifully more straightforward, and Jakobsen's task was faciliated by the smooth running of his QuickStep train. Evenepoel's prodigious show of pace-making laid the pathway for Yves Lampaert and Michael Mørkøv, before Jakobsen unleashed his stinging sprint.

"Remco is such a world-class rider, he basically brought Lampy to the last kilometre. Then Lampy and Morky is the best combination, they dropped me off in the perfect place, and I know that on a good day I’ve got the legs to beat anyone," Jakobsen said, and then smiled: "When I say it like that, it seems easy." 

It never is, but sometimes he makes it look that way.

How it unfolded

After Sunday's opening act in and around San Juan, the peloton faced a lengthy transfer from the provincial capital to the tranquillity of San Agustín de Valle Fértil for the start of stage 2, which was itself the longest leg of the race at a shade over 200km. The opening 80km or so of the course were almost entirely uphill, climbing to an altitude of 1500m through the haunting rock formations of the Parque Provincial Ischigualasto, dubbed locally as the 'valley of the moon.'

Ischigualasto, incidentally, is the Diaguita word for 'land without life,' but here it was the site of a vivacious first hour of racing that saw a dozen riders forge clear of the peloton. Óscar Sevilla (Medellín-EPM), third overall in 2020, was the obvious dangerman in the group, but his presence didn't prevent the escapees from amassing a sizeable advantage on the peloton on the gradual grind towards the stage's highest point.

The 46-year-old Sevilla had Alessandro Santaromita (Green Project-Bardiani), Stefano Gandin (Corratec) and Tomas Contte (Argentina) for company in the group, and the twelve leaders would stretch their advantage out to five minutes after 35km before the peloton felt moved to pare the gap down to more manageable dimensions.

Contte led the group over the summit of the climb after 80km with a buffer just north of three minutes, but the long and fast drop over the other side saw the sprinters' teams begin to make more significant inroads, with the Bora-Hansgrohe squad of race leader Sam Bennett prominent alongside Fabio Jakobsen's (and Remco Evenepoel's) Soudal-QuickStep guard.

By the time the road began to climb again on the approach to the second intermediate sprint at Huaco, it was already apparent that Sevilla and company's sortie was not going to deny the fast men. The leaders stuck resolutely to their task despite the intensity of the pursuit behind them, but they were swept up shortly after they swooped past the old mill in Huaco. Back in the bunch, meanwhile, Sam Welsford (DSM) was a faller, and although he quickly remounted, the Australian's injuries would prevent him from contesting the inevitable bunch sprint at day's end.

Manuele Tarozzi (Green Project-Bardiani) tried to sneak away and foil the sprinters in the closing stages but the peloton, spread wide across the road, only prolonged his suffering before teams began to set up their lead-outs. In the final few kilometres there were a few fireworks that quickly fizzled out, and Evenepoel's long, searing turn indicated the direction of travel from that point on.

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Barry Ryan
Head of Features

Barry Ryan is Head of Features at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation (opens in new tab), published by Gill Books.

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