Fabio Jakobsen delivered his first European victory for the season on stage 2 of Tirreno-Adriatico, bouncing back from a crash at Le Samyn with a win that the Soudal-QuickStep rider says shows he’s ‘got the legs’ as he continues toward a possible Tour de France start.
However, with new teammate Tim Merlier also firing at Paris-Nice earlier this week, the questions over which Soudal-QuickStep sprinter will this year get that sought-after berth in July are already being asked. Team manager Patrick Lefevere has said that there are 12 candidates for the Tour de France and there will be a natural selection.
“I just take it day by day. Tour de France is far away, we are now still in the spring,” said Jakobsen, after taking his 40th career victory and second of the season on the second day of racing at Tirreno-Adriatico. “My schedule still goes towards the Tour de France.”
“I think I’ve shown last year that I am able to win there so if I have a similar preparation I think I am good to go and I can fight for stage wins and in the end, it is a decision made above my head. I just need to keep going and prove that I am fast and I think today I have shown that I have got the legs.“
Jakobsen, who this season has also won a stage at Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina, gained selection at the French Grand Tour in 2022 while then teammate Mark Cavendish was left off the roster. The Dutch rider won the second stage to Nyborg, and also finished his debut Tour de France, though didn’t make it to the podium again at the race.
Merlier, also has a stage to his name at the Tour de France, winning on stage 3 to Pontivy in 2021 – his only appearance at the race so far – and this season on top of his Paris-Nice stage 1 victory earlier this week also won two sprint stages and the green jersey at the UAE Tour along with the opening stage of the Tour of Oman.
“Last year I was sprinting against him [Merlier], now we are in the same team so we don’t meet as much anymore but I think it is a privilege for Patrick and Soudal QuickStep to have two sprinters like this and they can make a choice who to go,” said Jakobsen. “I think we are both capable of winning and now it’s up to the team to decide … we will see in July who will be there.”
For now, though, the European champion who was happy to deliver his 40th win in a photo finish with Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck), and the location of the victory delivered an extra layer of meaning for the…
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