The Most Dominant Sprint of the Early Season | Valenciana Stage 2

Torrent – Spain – cycling – Fabio Jakobsen (NED – Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team) pictured during the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana 2022 – stage 2 from BŽtera to Torrent (171.5 – Photo: Luis Angel Gomez/Cor Vos © 2022

The Wolfpack is on fire in Valenciana. Dutch sprint star Fabio Jakobsen demonstrated in Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana Stage 2 a fantastic level, gapping the entire sprint field with 200 metres to go to win by over seven bike lengths – sitting up with 50 metres remaining.

Stage 2 was made for sprinters, but there was a chance that some of the bigger sprinters (like Jakobsen) might get dropped on climbs before the finish.

Stage 2 Profile – La Flamme Rouge

This would have been possible if a strong team had paced hard on the middle climbs, but according to Ben Zwiehoff’s Strava data, no team tried to set a tempo. Everyone, including Bora-Hansgrohe with a good climbing sprinter in Matthew Walls, was conservative – content to ride together to the finish without trying to drop Jakobsen. The only climb where the pace was set somewhat high was on the last little rise, Calicanto, but it was not anything nuclear – around 6 w/kg for 6 minutes with the sprinters perhaps doing less by slipping backwards in the field knowing there was plenty of time to the finish.

The non-threatening breakaway of the day was caught before that Calicanto climb, where Bahrain-Victorious rider Dylan Teuns tried his luck and attacked, having lost nearly two minutes after his curious pacing for Sanchez the day before.

Dylan Teuns (right) attack on Calicanto

Teuns rode the following descent full gas, with the scariest moment of the race happening with 14 kilometers to go when Jumbo-Visma sprinter David Dekker rode straight off the road trying to avoid an Euskaltel Euskadi rider that had slid out just before him.

There was a steep drop into hard surfaces off the road and we could not immediately see where Dekker had fallen, going at high speed. Fortunately, we saw Dekker get back up onto the road some time later under his own power, but he did not finish the stage. According to his team’s twitter account, the consequences from the crash are not too serious and are only scrapes and bruises.

Meanwhile, Teuns was brought back by the sprint trains with 9 kilometres remaining as the road flattened out. It was the most serious attempt of the day to rob a victory from sprint teams and perhaps if he had been joined by some other riders they could have made it to the finish.

The sprint teams assembled at the front but again, with 4 kilometers to go, there was another crash that split the peloton and affected chances of getting a victory for many riders, including perhaps Giacomo Nizzolo who ended 32nd. Quick-Step had paced hard as a team on the front up to this point, and benefitted from that front position while the peloton was in shambles due to crash. The Belgian team’s sprint train for Fabio Jakobsen is incredibly strong for a hilly stage race like this with Mattia Cattaneo, Mikkel Honoré, Josef Černy, Remco Evenepoel, Yves Lampaert and the best lead-out man in the business Michael Mørkøv. For a brief moment even the yellow jersey wearer Evenepoel was on the front smashing pedals hard, with just a few kilometres to go.

Quick-Step pacing hard on the front. Peloton split due to crash

In the last kilometer Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert-Materiaux was seen on the front, working for Norwegian Alexander Kristoff. Despite Quickstep’s leadout strength on paper, Mørkøv and others were not around Jakobsen with 600 metres to go, and Pasqualon was doing a terrific job for Intermarché on the front. However after he ended his lead-out duties, he would have been disappointed to see that it was Fabio Jakobsen, not his teammate Alexander Kristoff, sitting in his wheel, with Jakobsen launching with 150 metres to the finish.

Andrea Pasqualon doing his lead-out duties for Alexandre Kristoff. After he finished Fabio Jakobsen launched his might sprint

Considering that the finish was going up a slight false flat hill, this was a bit early from Jakobsen, but he gapped Kristoff immediately off the wheel and put almost 10 bike lengths into the entire group – none of whom could be seen in the overhead finishing shot.

Torrent – Spain – cycling – Fabio Jakobsen (NED – Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team) pictured during the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana 2022 – stage 2 from BŽtera to Torrent (171.5 – Photo: Luis Angel Gomez/Cor Vos © 2022

This sprint is already one of the candidates for the most impressive sprints of the young 2022 season and is a good reminder of why Jakobsen rather than Cavendish is on Quickstep’s provisional Tour de France startlist.

Stage 1 winner and GC leader, Evenepoel finished 7th on a stage that was made for sprinters, a curious performance for the young Belgian considering that he was a part of Jakobsen’s powerful sprint train and is not particularly punchy.

Stage 3 will be the most toughest day of this five day stage race, with a finishing climb on Maigmo Tibi of 9.8 km at 7.5 %. However this does not tell the full story, as the last 5km average 10% and include a gravel section that, according to Evenepoel after his reconnaissance of the climb on Quickstep’s camp, is of such poor surface quality that Quickstep turned around when they saw it as they could not believe it was included in the race.

Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana Stage 3 2022 Profile By La Flamme Rouge

Regardless, the clear favourite for the stage win will be Evenepoel, who was flying in Stage 1 on the easier climb there. It will be interesting to see if Aleksandr Vlasov or some of Spanish climbers, Alejandro Valverde, Carlos Rodriguez and Enric Mas, will be able to challenge Evenepoel or if he will run away with the general classification in Valenciana.

Make sure to check out Lanterne’s recap of the stage as well as Saudi Tour and Etoiles des Besseges below.