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Fabio Jakobsen claims first win as European champion as points hunt dominates ‘Flanders Championship’

Groenewegen: Relegation 'is a worthless system.' Struggling WorldTour teams send top sprinters into action in lower-tier Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen.

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Fabio Jakobsen got the wheels turning on his 12 months in the European champion’s jersey with victory in the Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen.

The new bearer of the white-and-blue striped top won a sprint royale over Caleb Ewan and Dylan Groenewegen for his first victory since winning the Euro title in Hamburg mid-August.

“It’s special to be European Champion and now ‘Flanders champion,'” Jakobsen said after the race Friday.

“It was a chaotic final, especially because we had to complete local laps. In addition, there were many teams that were here for the points, which made it very nervous.”

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The Belgian one-day race became center of the scramble for UCI points Friday as Lotto-Soudal, Bike Exchange-Jayco, Israel-Premier Tech, and Arkéa Samsic all stacked strong squads into the typically off-radar 1.1-rated race.

Ewan was hot off scoring a crucial points-bringing victory in GP de Fourmies last weekend and opened the sprint, but Jakobsen fired the afterburners to finally christen his special new jersey.

“It looked like a stage in a grand tour,” Jakobsen said. “Luckily I had fast legs today. In the last hundred meters I saw a gap, I could just pass and launch my sprint. Then it was man-to man-with Ewan.

“Luckily I was the fastest today. I wanted to win in my European jersey, I had never been able to do that before.”

Groenewegen: Relegation ‘is a worthless system’

Friday’s result could ripple all the way through the next three seasons.

Ewan’s Lotto-Soudal team and Jakobsen’s BikeExchange crew dangle either side of the relegation cut-off and are scrambling for every last result as the season draws to a close.

Ewan has two more races on his calendar in the coming five days while Groenewegen will see three sprint chances in that same period.

“I’ve raced a lot in Belgium this season,” Groenewegen said Friday. “I always like to do that. I’m continuing this weekend and racing all through to the end of the season.

“We must of course try to collect as many points as possible. Although I would like to say that I think it is a worthless system, but we’re doing what we can.”