Fabio Jakobsen wins Vuelta sprint to reclaim green jersey
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LA MANGA DEL MAR MENOR – Dutch rider Fabio Jakobsen won stage 8 of the Vuelta a Espana on Saturday for his second mass sprint triumph on the race just a year after a near fatal crash on the Tour of Poland.
Overall leader Primoz Roglic retained the red jersey after the largely flat 173km run from resort town Santa Ponta as Jakobsen of Deceuninck Quick-Step outpaced Alberto Dainese and Jasper Philipsen at the line.
Astana forced a sudden acceleration at the head of the peloton with 30km to go, briefly splitting the bunch in three, before the entire pack regathered and raced shoulder to shoulder all the way to a nervy high speed finish.
On a broad dual-carriageway Jakobsen was expertly delivered to the front of a frantic throng of sprinters and then proved more powerful than his great rival Philipsen of Alpecin.
Both men have two stage wins but Jakobsen, on 180 points, has retaken the green sprint points jersey from Philipsen, on 164.
"The team did a perfect job," Jakobsen said. "They kept the speed high and even though I lost them a little bit, I was still in a good position. I launched my sprint just on the corner at 200 to go and I was the fastest, I think."
"It was about being strong, fast, and it's about timing, I think. In a finish like this you need to be on time. I've been twice too late and this time I was perfectly right, and I could do a full sprint to the line."
Last August 5 the now 24-year-old Jakobsen had a brush with death in a terrifying crash in a mass sprint on the Tour of Poland. He needed five-hours of surgery after breaking his jaw and losing all his teeth.
On Saturday, Spanish cycling icon Alejandro Valverde underwent surgery on a fractured shoulder after his crash on Stage 7 on Friday. The 41-year-old Movistar leader was riding his 15th Vuelta.
Sunday's Stage 8 is a high mountain affair which will reveal which of Roglic's rivals might be up to the job of bettering him over the 21 days.
The stage ends in a 13km climb that should provide the scene for a skirmish to shake up the overall standings with Colombian climber Egan Bernal and his two Ineos lieutenants Adam Yates and Olympic champion Richard Carapaz poised should the Slovenian double-defending champion show a sign of weakness.