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New kid in town: Fabio Jakobsen is ready to join the sprinting elite

Joe Robinson
23 Jan 2019

The 22-year-old has Fernando Gaviria's boots to fill but Cyclist doesn't think this will be an issue

Patrick Lefevere personally introduced each and every one of his riders at the Deceuninck-Quick Step team presentation earlier this month. When it came to 22-year-old Fabio Jakobsen, Lefevere regaled a quick anecdote from his neo-pro season last year.

'When Fabio won Scheldeprijs last year he came up to me in the team bus and told me how he was disappointed that Marcel Kittel punctured before the finish,' Lefevere said. 

'He was upset because he knew he would have beaten Marcel that day and he wants to beat the best sprinters. I like that.' 

You could mistake this confidence for arrogance, wishing a 19-time Grand Tour stage winner had made it to the finish so you could beat him.

You could also mistake this as arrogance considering the success Jakobsen experienced in his first season in the WorldTour.

With victory at Scheldeprijs came two WorldTour victories at the Tour of Guangxi later in the season, a stage of the Binckbank Tour, stage of the Tour des Fjords and the Nokere Koerse. Seven in total that made him 2018's most successful neo-pro. 

So when Cyclist got the opportunity to chat to this young talent, we thought we'd ask him about a few things to see which side of confident and arrogant he was currently on, or whether he was just a young guy with a lot of talent.

Jakobsen on being 2018's most successful neo-pro

'I'm a confident guy but I'm also confident I don't know everything. I know what I want but I also know that I'm only 22-years-old. I know I have to listen to teammates and coaches and I have to learn.

'Honestly, sometimes I have to pinch myself to realise it's all happening. I had a 10/10 season. I won seven races and the Scheldeprijs, the big one, just look at the list of names to have won there. Kittel, Cavendish, Boonen. Win there and you are a big name.

'The pressure was already on last year, also. Not in all the races but some like Nokere Koerse, for example,' Jakobsen explained. 

'It was decided before the race that I was the leader. My first race in Belgium with the team, full pressure. Although I think that helped me focus, the pressure. It's good for a sprinter, it helps you focus and prepare the mind'

Jakobsen on the season ahead

'A stage in Paris-Nice would complete my season. Riders go there in good shape, racing hard to prepare for the Classics, so I would love to go and win there. I would also like to win early, at the Tour of Algarve or even Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, that would confirm a good winter.

'I may do the Vuelta a Espana, too, if the team decide I'm ready but that's their decision. Grand Tours may be for the future as at the moment my engine is still too small, I think.

'But wherever I race I want to win, I'm a sprinter.'

Jakobsen on a sprinter's ambitions

'There are five races sprinters have to win: Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, Scheldeprijs because it's the unofficial sprint World Championships, Milan-San Remo, Gent-Wevelgem and then, of course, the Champs-Elysees at the Tour,' lists Jakobsen. 

'You win all those and then your career is perfect. Luckily, I've already won one.'

Jakobsen on Patrick Lefevere

'He is literally the Godfather. He takes care of all his children, we are his riders. He will protect us, he will say if something is wrong, he will be honest and keep control making sure everything runs like clockwork.

'He knows everything. He doesn't always have an opinion on everything but he will know what's happening and will step in when he needs to.'

Jakobsen on his heroes

'I wasn't the biggest cycling fan as a kid but my love grew once I started riding at like 10-years-old. I looked up to guys like Tom Boonen because they were so strong in the Classics but my real hero was Nikie Terpstra.

'He was an outcast because he didn't race for Rabobank, he did his own thing. He went the Quick-Step and then won Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders.

'It was so cool being his teammate. We even shared a room at the National Championships last year, it was like I dream. I really learned a lot from him, he was a mentor to me.'

Jakobsen on cycling in the Netherlands

With myself, Dylan Groenewegen, Tom Dumoulin, it is a really good time for cycling in Holland although there is a downside. The public only really pays attention to the Tour de France,'

'There's so much more than just the Tour and Dutch cycling will likely win so much this year but it only matters if you win at the Tour. It can actually be quite shit but it is what it is.'

Jakobsen on the gym

'I'm definitely the strongest rider in the team, but I'm also the heaviest.'

(At this moment, I ask whether he is heavier than Tim Declercq)

'Ok, maybe second heaviest after Tim but I'm the strongest in the gym. I could do a 140kg back squat if I needed to but I don't because I may get injured.'