Jakobsen beats Ganna in ‘Challenge of Stars’

Froome, Nibali and others face off Sunday in climber's version of online format.

Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick Step) won the sprinter’s leg in Saturday’s “Challenge of Stars” virtual race.

The Dutch road champion defeated Italian time trial champion Filippo Ganna (Team Ineos) on the online race featuring eight top names facing off in elimination rounds. Others included Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Nacer Bouhanni (Team Arkéa-Samsic), Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo), Jasper De Buyst (Lotto-Soudal), Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) and Matteo Trentin (CCC Team).

In the two semi-finals, Duch road champion Jakobsen beat Ackermann, while Ganna beat Belgian De Buyst.

“I tried to check the screen and stay close to my opponents and give everything I have in the last 500 meters,” Jakobsen said. “I have been training indoors a lot recently, especially when it’s bad weather, definitely a few hours. It’s fun to have a new format of race like this, I clearly miss the Giro d’Italia right now but have to admit I was a bit nervous approaching each of the challenges.”

With top pros still waiting for a racing restriction to lift due to coronavirus, perhaps as soon as July, racers are trying to use virtual racing as a way to keep the competitive edge.

Organized by RCS Sport, the format will include a showdown of climbers in Sunday’s event, including Chris Froome (Ineos), Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), and Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo).

“It’s clearly different from racing outside,” Ganna said. “In a normal race you know better what is happening around you, here you need to constantly check your screen but what is definitively similar is the pain in the legs at the end of the race.”