Fabio Jakobsen nabs win with bike throw on stage 2 at Tirreno-Adriatico
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Fabio Jakobsen (Soudal-QuickStep) delivered his first win on European soil this season in a frantic sprint in Follonica on stage 2 of Tirreno-Adriatico.
The Dutchman waited patiently before putting his nose in the wind, rocketing off the wheel of Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) to snatch the stage with a well-timed bike throw.
Fernando Gaviria (Movistar) hit out first and seemed set to take the victory but narrowly missed out and finished in third as both Jakobsen and Philipsen shot past at the line.
"I knew I came with speed. Fernando went really early but he was fast. I jumped with Philipsen - you never know for sure, we've seen a lot of photo finishes now. I guess there are a lot of good sprinters," Jakobsen said, referring to a string of tough calls in recent races, the latest where Caleb Ewan was on what his team felt was the wrong end of a decision in the GP Monseré.
"I want to see the photo," Jakobsen said. "It was close, I think."
The victory was the 40th of Jakobsen's career, a large number considering he is just 26 years old. He admitted that it's a lot of wins, saying, "All of them are special", even if his tally is short of 2022 when he already amassed six at the same time.
"I didn't have the start of the season like last year but the condition is there, the team always gives their best and I do the same. You just have to wait for a chance. Today was again a chance and hopefully, we can take some more."
How it unfolded
The first road stage of the 2023 Tirreno-Adriatico would take the peloton on a long 210km run south along the Tyrrhenian coast to Follonica, a day suited to the sprinters but with a short climb lying in wait on the closing circuit.
On the way to the finish, the race’s first-categorised climb at Castellina Marittima would bring the reward of the first green jersey of Tirreno-Adriatico, while the 1km, 6% climb at L’Impostino at 10km from the line would pose a late question for the sprinters.
Without many prospects of staying away for a win and little to fight over during the stage, it was little surprise that the day’s breakaway went away almost immediately. Three wildcard teams filled out the move, with Eolo-Kometa pairing Davide Bais and Mirco Maestri joined by Roland Thalmann (Tudor) and two riders from Corratec – Stefano Gandin and Alessandro Iacchi.
The quintet was quickly allowed four minutes by the peloton, which was controlled by Soudal-QuickStep and Jayco-AlUla on behalf of their Dutch sprinters Fabio Jakobsen and Dylan Groenewegen.
There was little action on the run to Castellina Marittima 100km into the stage, barring the break’s lead ebbing away to two minutes by that point. Out front, Bais was seeking a green jersey to add to his stage 2 prize last year, but it was Gandin who took the spoils at the top of the climb to grab the first KOM lead of the week.
Bais, having missed out on green, dropped back to the peloton shortly after the climb, while Gandin also went on to win the sprint at Canneto 70km from the line. A short while later, he also dropped from the breakaway after doing his job for the day, leaving three up front to hold off the peloton for as long as possible.
Soudal-QuickStep and Jayco-AlUla continued to control the situation heading into the final 50km, with the break hanging just under a minute up the road with the two ascents of L’Impostino on the way.
With more teams joining the fray at the head of the peloton on the closing circuits around Follonica, the break’s advantage dropped to under 20 seconds with 20km to go. By that point, it was only a matter of time for the surviving trio, and they were reabsorbed soon afterwards.
Jumbo-Visma, Soudal-QuickStep, and Intermarché-Circus-Wanty moved to the front on the run to the second ascent of L’Impostino, with Movistar and Bahrain Victorious joining them in keeping the pace high.
There would be no attacks on the hill, and no big names dropped out the rear of the peloton either, setting it up for a big sprint finish 9km down the road. The sprint squads imposed themselves on the front on the flat run towards Follonica, though it was Soudal-QuickStep who seized control heading into the final 4km.
They were joined at the front by Intermarché-Circus-Wanty on the other side of the road, setting up a Belgian lead-out battle on the run to the line, with Alpecin-Deceuninck in close attendance.
Come the sprint, it was Fernando Gaviria, who stole a march on the rest, blasting through an open space in the Jayco-AlUla lead out at 300 metres to go. The Colombian put clear air between his back wheel and his rivals, but Philipsen was quick to react.
The Dutchman managed to push past Jakobsen’s last man, Bert Van Lerberghe, to close the gap to Gaviria at the 75-metre mark. However, Jakobsen was just behind, and was ready to launch himself into the wind at 50 metres to go.
In the dying metres, Gaviria was passed on his right by the Dutch duo – but only just – with Jakobsen’s momentary slipstream in the wheel of Philipsen perhaps just enough to help him launch to his second victory of 2023.
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