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Fabio Jakobsen: Lefevere’s angry team talk inspired Quick-Step to Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne win

Fabio Jakobsen takes aim at Gent-Wevelgem after win in ‘opening weekend.’

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Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne winner Fabio Jakobsen has admitted that an angry Patrick Lefevere inspired Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl to victory in Sunday’s race.

The Belgian team boss was left fuming after a tepid performance from his team in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday, and according to Jakobsen the riders felt the full force of Lefevere’s feelings at the team hotel that evening.

Florian Sénéchal was the team’s best-placed rider in Omloop with ninth on the line. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and his teammates dominated the race with Quick-Step often on the back foot and forced to chase.

It was a similar situation in Kuurne but the team put in a frantic chase in the finale to catch the late break and deliver Jakobsen to his fifth win of the season. The Dutch rider effectively rescued Quick-Step’s weekend.

“The opening weekend is important for our team, but also for a sprinter. I am very happy with this win. Also because we had a talk from our boss Patrick Lefevere on Saturday. I won’t go into too much detail about what was discussed there. But it was not a happy conversation,” Jakobsen told Wielerflits.

“We were confronted with the fact that we were invisible in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. He wanted us to show that we are a team. I don’t think we were the team we should be on Saturday. He has imprinted that in our heads with West Flemish words,” Jakobsen added.

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“I don’t understand that dialect, but I did understand what was being said! Even I was sitting uncomfortably in my seat, even though I didn’t ride Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. When Patrick starts talking and it’s not the nice way… But that’s normal, this is top sport. This is our job. We have to perform. As a Quick-Step-Alpha Vinyl rider you can’t be happy with ninth place. I don’t even think we were in the picture during the race. Again: I’m not going to go into detail, but it wasn’t nice to be there. Hopefully, it won’t happen again this season, because then we won’t do well enough.”

Jakobsen has been the best sprinter this season with five wins already to his name. He looks on course to race the Tour de France in July, although Mark Cavendish remains in the hunt for the sprint spot in the team.

Jakobsen is in action Tuesday at Le Samyn before heading to France for Paris-Nice.

He will miss Milan-Sanremo, but Gent-Wevelgem is on his program for the end of March. The Dutchman is well aware that the race will be harder and more competitive than Kuurne but he’s targeting the semi-classic as his next major goal.

“Of course that race is a bit longer than Kuurne. But there are not many climbs. I like winning, I like fans,” he said. “In Gent-Wevelgem there are three or four points where you have to make an effort. We’re going to try to stand there. But that is the next step in my development. First I had to check these off, now I can look ahead. You just can’t always roll a six. That didn’t work in the Omloop on Saturday, but it did in Kuurne on Sunday.”