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Thirty-four stage victories aren’t enough when Fabio Jakobsen is on the scene.
Dutch speedster Jakobsen has been tipped ahead of veteran Manxman Mark Cavendish for this year’s Tour de France in Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s early-season planning.
A debut run at the Tour will mark the climax of a six-month spell that will take Jakobsen from his season start at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana in early February through a series of stage races and one-dayers in the spring.
“That’s the schedule that has now been plotted,” Jakobsen told Wielerflits from the Quick-Step camp in Calpe, Spain. “I feel good about it and I want to try it. Of course, you have to be good enough for it, but in the team the people who understand it think it’s possible.
“The Tour is the highest achievement in our sport for a sprinter, apart from the world championships and Milano-Sanremo, as a monument. I am very motivated.”
No guilt as Cavendish goes to the Giro
With no space for two sprinters in one team, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl will send Cavendish to the Giro d’Italia this year.
The 36-year-old made history with his incredible return to form in 2021, winning four stages at the Tour and leveling Eddy Merckx’s stage-win record.
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Jakobsen’s regret at squeezing Cavendish out of the Tour was allayed by his belief that his own three stage-wins and points classification triumph at the 2021 Vuelta a España have earned him the selection on merit.
The Dutchman also hinted that Cavendish would have been aware he would not return to the Tour when he renewed his contract with Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl last month.
“Do I feel guilty towards Mark Cavendish? Yes, though guilty isn’t the right word. Because I think I deserve it too. And if I’m not good enough, I don’t go,” Jakobsen said.
“Cavendish knows that the Tour is my goal and that he will ride the Giro himself. But he is ready as a reserve. He can do that like no other and I think he’s happy with that role. His contract was of course only signed at the end of December. Then the first planning [for the season] had already been made. Although [team boss] Patrick had said it before, of course.”
Ongoing backing from Lefevere
Jakobsen’s early selection for the Tour is the latest in Quick-Step chief Patrick Lefevere’s ongoing confidence in his young ace.
Lefevere extended Jakobsen’s contract last year before his sprinter had refound his form after his horrific crash at the Tour of Poland, and went on to hand him the Vuelta start that propelled him back to the top.
“He [Lefevere] was quick to offer a contract extension last year, while I had not yet won a race. And now after the Vuelta he immediately told me that I can do the Tour this year,” Jakobsen said. “That motivates me.
“But look, I started at the bottom of the ladder hierarchy in the team and gradually worked my way up. I have already experienced the pressure of a grand tour twice and the Vuelta has now been the stepping stone. Now I can try it at the highest level.”