Will Jakobsen be the Cavendish of 2022?
It has everything to be. On this Tour, the Dutchman replaced the “Cav” in the role of scorer at Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl. And he scored from the first opportunity, this Saturday, with quite striking ease when he produced his effort in the last meters at Nyborg. The difference in speed with the others was clear and all this supports the idea that, for many months, no one has been faster than Jakobsen.
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Since the crash that nearly cost him his life in the 2020 Tour of Poland, the Dutchman has won 18 of the 23 sprints he has contested. That is a success rate of 78%. If he continues at this staggering pace over the next three weeks, he will do better than Cavendish last year (4 wins). By applying this coefficient with the number of massive sprint opportunities to come (5 counting the arrivals at Sonderborg, Sunday, then Saint-Etienne, Carcassonne, Cahors and Paris), he would end up with 5 or 6 successes.
It is quite unlikely on paper, the competition on the Tour being much higher than on the other races on the calendar. But Jakobsen is in any case equipped to get there. He has the best pilot fish in the world, Michael Morkov, an entire team at his service, especially since the yellow jersey is no longer on the shoulders of Yves Lampaert, even if it was not a problem this Saturday . I can see him making a raid on the massive sprints.
It is difficult to dispute that Fabio Jakobsen is on paper the best sprinter of this vintage 2022. The first packaging, Saturday, in Nyborg, confirmed it. In theory, yes, he is able to finish with four, five or six stages in his bag. And if he were to do (at least) as well as Mark Cavendish in the 2021 edition, it wouldn’t be a colossal surprise. Especially since the fact of having scored on his first opportunity will undoubtedly help to reassure him. His Tour will not be a failure, no matter what.
Be careful though. Despite his very impressive success rate, Jakobsen will have to show that he can go the distance on the Tour, which he is competing for the very first time. How will he cash in on these three weeks of Grande Boucle? Will he pass the high mountain? The Dutchman has finished the two Tours of Spain he has contested, which encourages optimism, but the Tour is much more tiring, because everything is bigger there, because the demands are incomparable.
From coma to victory in the Tour de France: Jakobsen moved after his success in the 2nd stage
Unfortunately for him, the sprint finishes will not be overcrowded this year either. He is almost condemned to faultless if he wants to join the line of Cavendish, Petacchi and others. All it takes is a grain of sand in a sprint, or as the final approaches, for a victory to fly away without even being able to fight. So, Jakobsen king of the sprint on this Tour, yes, it is a strong probability. But from there to imagine a historic raid, if the thing is possible, it is far from guaranteed.
Is Van Aert made to last in yellow?
It has long revolved around. This time, Wout van Aert holds his yellow jersey. A just reward for the all-terrain Belgian, capable of sprinting, rolling, “punching” and, on occasion, climbing. Now that he is finally installed at the top of the general classification, can WVA start a significant start to his reign? This would not necessarily be in the interest of the Jumbo Visma team, which will have many other fish to fry later on this Tour, but the hypothesis is, if not probable, largely conceivable.
Firstly because the new yellow jersey should find occasional allies on Sunday. The sprinters teams should be in action on Sunday. But in the short term, no sprinter threatens Van Aert with bonuses. If he is simply in the peloton on Sunday for the last in Denmark, he therefore has every chance of bringing the jersey back to France at least.
But its versatility is by far its best asset. Van Aert doesn’t need a team working all day to defend his position. In this first third of the Tour de France, the handyman of the Jumbo will be a candidate for victory on practically all stages. It has not smiled on him for the moment, but failing to collect the bouquets, he capitalizes in the general. Of course, his room for maneuver is tenuous and it seems optimistic that he can live a very long-term adventure, but why not until La Planche des Belles Filles next Friday, when the race will enter a new phase?
I agree with Laurent, I can see him in yellow up to the Planche des Belles Filles. If we had to select three favorites on each of the five stages to come, WVA would always have a cross in front of its name. In this respect, only a glitch or an unfavorable event is likely to undress him from here in the Vosges, even if everything can very quickly turn in the wrong direction. The pitfalls punctuating this first week are numerous and its margin very narrow (1 second on Lampaert, 8” on Pogacar, 11” on Ganna, 12” on Pedersen…).
Nevertheless, Van Aert himself does not have the wrong ideas. Jumbo-Visma has other plans and won’t spend unnecessary energy defending the WVA tunic. The goal is to finish in yellow in Paris with Roglic or Vingegaard. Not to please his Belgian star. Is having the yellow jersey so early a burden for the Dutch team? Not necessarily. This will not change his way of racing, always at the forefront, and the weight of the race, at the start of the Tour, will be shared with the other teams interested in stage victories. It might even be luck. Jumbo-Visma is now in pole position in the line of cars. A very appreciable comfort, especially in view of Wednesday for the cobblestones. Provided of course that Van Aert is still in yellow that day.
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