Fabio Jakobsen masters mountains, defeats timecut at Tour de France: ‘I have to tell myself I never give up’

Quick-Step sprint star completes final mountain stage of Tour de France with four minutes to spare before resetting for two sprints to come.

Photo: Getty Images

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ARGELÈS-GAZOST, France (VN) — Fabio Jakobsen was ashen-faced and dull-eyed when he made it back to the team bus at the bottom of the last climb of this year’s Tour de France.

Jakobsen had not long completed a four-and-a-half hour horror show of high Pyrénéan peaks Thursday as he successfully beat the time cut by four minutes and waved goodbye to the uphill after surviving stage 18 of the race.

“I always tell everybody I never give up,” Jakobsen said with the semi-slurred words of a rider that went way beyond the red zone. “I also have to tell myself that.”

Sprint star Jakobsen was guided to the line by a cluster of five Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl wingmen on the HC Hautacam summit on Thursday.

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Jakobsen suffered like only a sprinter knows how in the past 48 hours, crossing the line solo on the Peyragudes Wednesday stalked by the “broom wagon” that marks the back of the race.

The 25-year-old sat shakily on the bottom step of the team bus, bundled into a winter jacket despite high-summer sun.

Exhaustion was evident with every word and movement.

“I would say the Alps were hardest in terms of race pace, but that was in the middle of the Tour and this is the last week,” Jakobsen said.

“Now, I have more fatigue in the body, I can feel that. My heart rate doesn’t respond as quick as it normally does, but that’s normal [after three weeks].

“These last two or three days there was a limit on my body, but I try to keep my mind as sharp as possible.”

Jakobsen struck a lonely figure when he finished just 15 seconds ahead of the broom wagon Wednesday. Quick-Step shepherded its sprinter to the base of the Peyragudes before hitting home without him to avoid the risk of a mass team exodus ahead of time.

Thursday saw the whole Quick-Step pack patrol around its lead wolf as it motivated Jakobsen up the Hautacam with plenty of time to spare.

“Without a team, a sprinter is nothing,” Jakobsen said. “They’re as important in winning sprints as they are getting me to the finish line in these races. As a sprinter I realize these guys are everything I have. I owe everything to them. This is teamwork. I can say I really love them.”

From last to first

HAUTACAM, FRANCE – JULY 21: Fabio Jakobsen helped by his teammates Andrea Bagioli, Mikkel Honoré, Mattia Cattaneo, and Florian Senechal in the final climb during the 109th Tour de France 2022, Stage 18. (Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

Jakobsen will be looking to finish the other end of the results sheet in the sprint stage Friday compared with when he finished dead-last on the Peyresourde on Wednesday.

The Dutchman dominated the bunch sprints all season and is a top-favorite to score a second and possibly third victory in the long flat stage to Cahors in Friday’s stage 19 before what is the showcase of bunch sprints in Paris on Sunday.

“It’s always mixed,” Jakobsen said when asked whether he felt relief at pulling through the Pyrénées or motivated for the days to come.

“Today I’m grateful, I’m relieved I can make the time limit. But when I turn and enter the bus, I’m going to put my shoulders back and my chest up and ask them what they think about tomorrow.”

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