Jakobsen's incredible comeback as he wins his third La Vuelta Sprint
Fabio Jakobsen's remarkable comeback from a brush with death continued apace on Tuesday as the Dutchman won a third stage of this year's La Vuelta a Espana on his 25th birthday
The Deceuninck Quick-Step sprinter underwent five hours of emergency surgery after a high speed crash on the Tour of Poland a year ago, but he appears fully recovered at his comeback Grand Tour, holding a firm grip on the sprinters' points green jersey after this final sprint stage of the 21-day race.
Norwegian Odd Christian Eiking retains his surprise overall lead after stage 16, finishing safely in the main pack to take his run in red to a week, with two mountain slogs on stage 17 and 18 standing between him and an unlikely victory on this Vuelta.
Eiking said he felt tired early on Tuesday after "sleeping all day" on Monday's rest day with Wednesday's stage in mind.
"Lagos De Covadonga is going to be really decisive in the overall standings and it will be really hard racing from the start tomorrow. It will be really fun to race it," said the 26-year-old all-rounder.
Jakobsen powered to his latest win in front of the visiting Deceuninck CEO, who Briton Mark Cavendish also credited for nurturing his comeback at the Tour de France in July.
"A birthday is always a good day, but I'm over the moon with this win. I was dropped on the climb, the guys waited for me, they brought me back and I won the race.
"The only thing I can do is win a short, fast sprint – they did everything else today," said Jakobsen, who seemed to cruise to victory.
The Dutch sprinter has 250 points in the green jersey rankings, with Matteo Trentin trailing in second on 123.
His Vuelta is already a resounding success given there were fears for his life in Poland when he flew over barriers and into a metal pole, losing all his teeth in the process.
Few expect Eiking to hold onto the red jersey until Sunday but he has a 54sec lead on Guillaume Martin, 1min 36sec on Primoz Roglic, 2min 11sec on Enric Mas and 3min 04sec on Miguel Angel Lopez.
Giro d'Italia champion Egan Bernal also stands an outside chance of at least getting on the podium at 4min 21sec.
"I feel good, I've never been on such good form," said Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert's Eiking.
Double defending champion Roglic will be rubbing his hands in glee with a long final day time-trial, as he is Olympic champion in the discipline.
So Mas, Lopez and Bernal have stage 17 and 18 to try and pulverise the Slovenian.
If not few would bet against Roglic taking the honours in Santiago de Compostela on Sunday.
VIDEO: 2021 La Vuelta Stage 16 Highlights
2021 La Vuelta Stage 16 Top 10
1 Fabio Jakobsen (Ned) Deceuninck-QuickStep 4:08:57
2 Jordi Meeus (Bel) Bora-Hansgrohe
3 Matteo Trentin (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
4 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team BikeExchange
5 Alberto Dainese (Ita) Team DSM
6 Jon Aberasturi Izaga (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
7 Rui Oliveira (Por) UAE Team Emirates
8 Riccardo Minali (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
9 Antonio Jesus Soto Guirao (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
10 Clement Venturini (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
2021 La Vuelta GC after Stage 16
1 Odd Christian Eiking (Nor) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 64:06:47
2 Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis 00:00:54
3 Primoz Roglic (Slo) Jumbo-Visma 00:01:36
4 Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team 00:02:11
5 Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno (Col) Movistar Team 00:03:04
6 Jack Haig (Aus) Bahrain Victorious 00:03:35
7 Egan Bernal Gomez (Col) Ineos Grenadiers 00:04:21
8 Adam Yates (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 00:04:34
9 Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma 00:04:59
10 Felix Grossschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:05:31