Ever since his life-threatening crash and injuries in the 2020 Tour de Pologne, Fabio Jakobsen (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) has had a childhood of ‘milestone moments’, but starting his first Tour de France this Friday is surely one of the bigger ones .
The 25-year-old is only recognizing his Tour de France debut in the QuickStep-AlphaVinyl pre-race press conference, where the team discussed prospects in July and Denmark and France.
Asgreen freely admitted his chances of taking yellow on home lights on Fridays have shrunk to the Tour de Suisse. But he promised to give it 100 percent non obliged.
Meanwhile Jakobsen described himself as “excited, but not happy yet” at taking part in the Tour de France, with a stage win holding the key to any greater contentment.
Jakobsen defined his sensations as a “dream come true,” a classic cliché perhaps, but in his case, the utterly logical one.
“I think most cyclists have something major in their career, there is always a period of rehabilitation if it’s a crash or illness. I’ve had a fair share, maybe a bit more,” he told reporters.
“I’m super happy to be here, but that’s not why I got into racing – to be somewhere.
“So I’m super-excited, but not happy yet, [because] that’s what we’re going to find in the next three weeks: if I want to win in the Tour. “
Sports director Tom Steels, who captured multiple flat stages in the Tour de France himself when a racer, added a note of caution by pointing out that even without one or two of the big-name sprinters in the Tour this year, “it won’t Fabio will still have the sharpest of all [the sprinters] to get it and that first win in the Tour is always the most difficult one. “
However, he says, he was confident in the team’s ability to engineer a sprint even when their tireless domestique El Tractor Declercq. The Belgian could not start the racer after testing positive for COVID-19. He is also confident in Jakobsen’s ability to be the first across the line.
While Jakobsen did not add anything more to those comments, simply adding that “as the Dutchman was much more forthcoming about how he plans to get through the mountain stages without falling outside the time limit.
“You know, if you’re the fastest in the last 250 meters of a sprint, you’re probably the slowest on the long climbs,” he reasoned.
“That’s something you take for granted and I’ll have to fight on those days, maybe even more than on the sprint days.
“But I’ll have a Kasper by my side, I’m hoping he’ll guide me over the Galibier, Croix de Fer, the Alpe d’Huez …”
“That’s easy, I’ll just keep pushing,” Asgreen interrupted jokingly.
“It’s always stressful, but that’s part of our sport,” Jakobsen concluded in his analysis of how he’ll handle the mountains. “I’m not looking forward to the climbing days and maybe I have to fight even harder than on the sprint days. Paris becomes even more beautiful. “
Asgreen in Copenhagen
Both Jakobsen and Steels, despite the Dutchman winning the points jersey at last maillot vert from the word go.
But Asgreen, who had high hopes of battling for victory in Friday’s opening TT, admitted that his recent crash and injury in the Tour de Suisse would make it all but impossible to fight for his own stage win and yellow in Copenhagen.
“Unfortunately, it’s not a realistic goal,” the three-time National Time Trial Champion said. “I also had a small setback before Suisse with an illness.
“It took me five or six days completely off the bike and since I’ve been really improving fast. pain or stability issues. So that’s also why I’m at the startline. If there were any risks I wouldn’t be here. “
“But I’m missing out on a bit of specific work, even if the base condition was there between Roubaix and Suisse and that’s really good.”
“It was a bit of a mental kick in the nuts, but you just gotta go around with it, refocus my energy into making it on the start line, because it wasn’t even clear I was going to be there . “
The Alaphilippe dilemma
While Asgreen’s injuries were not sufficient to cause him to be DNS, and no questions asked about the absence of Mark Cavendish from the 2022 Tour QuickStep-AlphaVinyl lineup, sports director list had represented a major dilemma.
“I think the no-selection for Julian was one of the toughest we had to take, but we also did it for Julian himself. Because the Tour is, let’s not forget, the hardest stage race in the world. Even if you ‘ re 100 percent it’s incredibly hard. “
“We also wanted to see Julian shine in the other races and don’t have to go through the Tour with a rainbow jersey that looks like it’s been in the washing machine 10 times. it was very tight to get to the Tour, but he just didn’t make it. “
“I think he’s one hell of a rider, and we just wanted to save him for the rest of the season. But he was one of the toughest decisions we’ve ever taken in the Tour.”
Where Steels was in no doubt though in Jakobsen’s racer and his ability to get a Tour stage win.
“From the first training camp when I saw him, I already knew he had a special ability, he just improved and you knew the kind of guy who could do the Tour to win stages.”
“He has a natural intuition and that’s what you need. feeling very excited about seeing what he can do in the last kilometer. “
Indeed, when Jakobsen won the first Grand Tour stage of his comeback, in stage 4 of the 2021 Vuelta and España, he described it as the closing of a chapter. And no-one can doubt that this Friday in the 2022 Tour de France, a new chapter is opening for him, too.