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ON SATURDAY, Fabio Jakobsen won stage two of the Tour de France in a reduced sprint finish after a late crash split the peloton in Nyborg.
It marked a remarkable comeback for the 25-year-old Dutchman, making his tour debut less than two years after suffering life-threatening injuries in a crash at the Tour of Poland.
He delivered Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s second stage win in as many days as he beat Wout van Aert and Mads Pedersen to the line.
Jakobsen had been under added pressure to deliver a stage win having been picked for this tour ahead of Mark Cavendish but took the first opportunity that came his way.
However, in yesterday’s third stage in Denmark at the start of the tour, it took a photo to separate the first three places in a thrilling final bunch sprint in Sonderborg, again reduced by a crash some eight kilometres from the line.
Jakobsen’s team put the comeback kid well in contention but he lost touch rounding the final bend, and diminutive Australian Caleb Ewan was edged out as the usual sprint suspects battled it out for the line.
Two years ago, Dutch rider Dylan Groenewegen was blamed for the heavy crash that sent Jakobsen flying through roadside crash barriers.
Jakobsen was put in an induced coma and needed five hours of surgery on his skull and face.
Groenewegen received a nine-month ban for his part in the crash and has suffered mental anguish in the knowledge that he caused harm to a fellow competitior.
Yesterday Groenewegen was declared stage winner, just ahead of Wout van Aert and fellow Belgian Jesper Philipsen in third, with Peter Sagan a close fourth: the Slovak rider may have lost a bit of speed over the years but his experience still puts him among the front-runners. Jakobsen had to settle for fifth spot, while Ewan was ninth.
After today’s transfer day, the tour will reassemble in Dunkerque tomorrow for stage four with Van Aert in the yellow leader’s jersey, seven seconds ahead of stage one winner Yves Lampaert, a fellow Belgian, and 14 seconds ahead of race favourite Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia.
Of course, it wouldn’t be the tour without a drugs scandal: on Friday, police investigating suspected doping by the Bahrain Victorious team seized more than 450 capsules of “unidentified substances” at a house in Slovenia during raids across Europe.
Riders and staff had their homes raided and the team’s hotel in Denmark was searched this week ahead of the three-week race.
The European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Co-operation said 14 properties in six countries were searched and three people interrogated.
Substances were also seized in Belgium, Italy and Poland, plus computers, phones and other electronic devices. Police also searched properties in Spain and seized potential evidence.
The investigation was opened in May and led by prosecutors in Marseille. The team, sponsored by the government of Bahrain, was also raided by French police during last year’s Tour.
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