Our 22-year-old rider became just the third reigning Dutch Champion to win a stage at the Spanish Grand Tour.
Fabio Jakobsen made himself a beautiful and memorable early birthday present, four days before turning 23, taking the victory in El Puig by the narrowest of margins, on what was the sprinters’ final opportunity on this opening week of the race. Put in a perfect position by his Deceuninck – Quick-Step teammates on the straight run to the line, Fabio kicked out with 200 meters to go, and despite a late surge of his opponents, he held on for his sixth victory of the season.
“It was a really tight finish and I just threw my bike to the line and closed my eyes. I found out that I had won only when I saw the guys from the team cheering. I am very happy, I really can’t put it into words. I came here to discover and learn, but I was confident I could pull it off and now I’m just savouring this victory”, Fabio said, beaming with happiness.
Just two riders decided to go in the break on stage 4, and despite a five-minute maximum advantage, they were an easy prey for the peloton, where several riders – including Tim “El Tractor” Declercq – worked together to keep the gap in check and bring the duo back inside the final 20 kilometers. It all pointed to a classic bunch sprint, but Rémi Cavagna had other plans and the Frenchman launched an attack six kilometers from the finish, putting the pressure on the other teams, helped also by the numerous roundabouts sprinkled along the route.
Cavagna came 1200 meters short of the biggest victory of his career, but his effort still paid dividends, the other teams’ sprint trains being derailed by the frantic chase. This worked in favour of Deceuninck – Quick-Step, who took command of the race under the flamme rouge with Zdenek Stybar. The Czech’s effort stretched out the field before Max Richeze emerged with 600 meters remaining – with Fabio Jakobsen tucked on his wheel – and gave another sensational lead-out to the young Dutchman, who dashed to victory ahead of Sam Bennett (Bora-hansgrohe) and netted Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s 27th stage win at the Vuelta a España.
“On Monday we hesitated a bit and at the end we were disappointed, but today we took the initiative and dominated the finale. Tim controlled the breakaway, Rémi showed again how strong he is, then Styby and Max provided a superb lead-out and proved again why they are some of the best in the business. I want to thank the entire Wolfpack, because without them this great victory wouldn’t have been possible.”
The fourth Dutch Champion in history to claim a stage at the Spanish Grand Tour, Fabio explained also the significance of this victory, which came just four days into his maiden Grand Tour: “It’s a sprinter’s dream to win in a Grand Tour, and for me, to take a stage while wearing the Dutch Champion jersey, is something unforgettable. I worked hard the entire year for this and today’s result gives me a lot of satisfaction. I am still young, have the entire future ahead of me, and I hope this victory will be the first in a long line of successes.”
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele/ Getty Images