Beware the Jabberwock – pro cycling is a cruel sport

A few metres before the finish of the first stage in the 2020 Tour de Pologne, Fabio Jakobsen heavily crashed after Dylan Groenewegen cut across his path driving Jakobsen into the barriers. After the crash, the race doctor initially reported that Jakobsen, then only 24 years of age, had suffered several major injuries, including serious brain trauma and damage to the upper respiratory tract, a broken palate, and heavy blood loss, and was in life-threatening condition.

Now, during the 2021 Vuelta a España, a three-week Grand Tour cycle race, after nearly 200kms in the saddle, Fabio Jakobsen is in a sprint finish on Stage 13. It was his team mate Florian Senechal-Staelens‘s job to lead out Fabio to victory.

Florian Senechal-Staelens

The sponsors, commentators, book makers and fans were all expecting the flying dutchman, Fabio Jakobsen, to win. Yet his team mate (in French, domestique), who has never won a major race, burns the opposition and wins his first grand tour race, ever.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
      The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
      And burbled as it came!
Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll

This is what Fabio said to his team mate and winner Florian Senechal-Staelens just before the official interviews begin. English is neither man’s first language.

Fabio (in English, looking stern, frustrated and exhausted): Hey Florian, congrats ‘mon pat’ … but if you don’t look behind (to see where I am), you are not enough.

Florian: (apologetic) Yeah, yeah … I, I, I ask the guys (in the sprint train), wait, wait ..

Fabio (interrupts): No, yeah …

Florian (trying to explain): … but we are in front … we wait till corner huh ..

Fabio: (background noise) I was hoping to come back …

Florian: Yeah

Fabio: … and this Bernal (Ineos Team leader) come … (unintelligible) and I’m behind …

Florian: … and I say …

Fabio (interrupts): … congrats … and then I say sprint huh … but if they (meaning you?) go too fast ..

Florian (looking guilty): No, I go through corner … unintelligible.

Fabio Jakobsen is then interviewed on international television and says: : “I tried to close the gap but I couldn’t. I didn’t have the legs to sprint, so I told Florian he should do the sprint

Yet his team, Deceuninck (Quick Step), tweets: Fabio had a mechanical problem implying that is why he did not contest the sprint!

Florian Senechal-Staelens (left) wins Stage 13 of the Vuelta followed by Matteo Trentin

The Big Ride for Palestine (Australia) is coming soon.

Ian Curr
28 Aug 2021

Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll

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