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  Festival Luxembourgeois Elsy Jacobs Preview  
  First held in 2008 as a one day race known as the Grand Prix Elsy Jacobs before becoming a UCI race the following year. In 2012 the format changed to a stage race, it remains today as the Festival Luxembourgeois du cyclisme féminin Elsy Jacobs. Anna Van der Breggan took the win last year and returns looking to defend.

As always it is a strong field and the top teams Rabo, Orica-AIS Wiggle Honda and Bigla all bring teams with three or four riders capable of a very strong performance here.

You might be wondering about the name. Elsy Jacobs was the first winner of the Women's Road Race at the World Championships in 1958.


Defending Champion Marianne Vos won the opening prologue and with everyone watching Vos teammate Anna Van der Breggan went on the attack and with no chase coming Van der Breggan took a solo win by over one minute. Vos made it a Rabo triple winning the final stage, while Van der Breggan finished safely in the peloton to take the overall win.

Prologue - Marianne VOS
Stage 1 - Anna VAN DER BREGGAN
Stage 2 - Marianne VOS

2 Marianne VOS +1:05
3 Shelley OLDS +1:14
4 Eleonora VAN DIJK +1:19
5 Pauline FERRAND PREVOT +1:21
6 Thalita DE JONG +1:21
7 Emma JOHANSSON +1:22
8 Amy PIETERS +1:23
9 Megan GUARNIER +1:23
10 Elke GEBHARDT +1:24

Past Winners

2014 - Anna Van der Breggen
2013 - Marianne Vos
2012 - Marianne Vos
2011 - Marianne Vos
2010 - Marianne Vos
2009 - Svetlana Bubnenkova
2008 - Monia Baccaille

The Route

A few minor changes in the route for 2015 with the opening prologue (time trial) being extended to 5.6km up from 2.6. The longer distance will create larger gaps in the general classification and are likely to prove crucial in the final general classification.

The first road stage remains the same as last year with an opening 53.6km loop that includes the first GPM of the race at the 40.8km mark. The first part of the loop is a slow descent before flattening out and climbing back towards the start of the finishing circuits. The climb back to the start of the finishing circuits will start to test the legs even before the undulating circuits start. The two GPM points are on lap two and four.

Stage three is similar to last year but has been changed slightly. An opening nine kilometre loop that has riders start climbing almost from the start. From here there is a 54.1km circuit that starts with a brief climb before a long downhill run of around 30 kilometres. With just over 50km completed the road starts climbing with the first GPM coming after 61.7km. The finishing circuit has been reduced to four laps from five. The final GPM points come on lap two and three.

There are bonus seconds available at the finish line of 10-6-4 for the top three finishers.

The Contenders

Start list available here


To pick out one or two contenders from Rabo is difficult when the entire team is very capable of challenging for the win here. Anna Van der Breggan is the defending champion after taking a solo win on the opening road stage by over one minute. Has had a strong season so far winning Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, the prologue and final road stage at the Energiewacht Tour before winning Flèche Wallonne. Has also been on the podium at Trofeo Alfredo Binda and Ronde van Vlaanderen. On great form at the moment and knows what it takes to win here.

The team also had three other riders who finishes in the top 10 last year and Lucinda Brand just one spot outside in 11th. Both Ferrand-Prevot are Brand return and are capable of good results. They can put in solid performances against the clock and without a big name sprinter the team is likely to be aggressive on the road stages.

Australian time trial champion Shara Gillow is one of the best against the clock but prefers a longer distance. Didn't appear to be on the bst form at EPZ Omloop van Borsele time trial last week, finishing more than two minutes off the win. Katarzyna Niewiadoma rounds out the team and is another to keep an eye on. With the depth they bring here and the undulating nature of the course perfectly suited to the team. They can put in attack after attack and force others to spend energy chasing them down.

Emma Johansson and Orica-AIS

Orica-AIS has not had the start to the season they would have like but things look to be starting to turn around. Emma Johansson broke her collarbone at Novilon Eurocup but returned just over two weeks later and finished an impressive 13th at Ronde van Vlaanderen. Backed up by finished 10th at Fleche Wallone. Clearly coming in to good form despite the forced break from racing with injury and is likely to be in better form here. Johansson is very strong in the shorter time trials and is likely to be challenging for the win.

Commonwealth Games time trial bronze medallist and Oceania Champion Katrin Garfoot showed she is also coming in to form and if she can produce a strong time trial here will be another fighting for the win. The short distance doesn't suit her but could still go well. Expect to see her on the attack on the road stages. Track World Champion Melissa Hoskins could likewise produce a strong result here. Would prefer a shorter 2-3km prologue but the distance is till within her.

After a difficult season Amanda Spratt has returned to form and can produce a strong ride against the clock especially over this sort of distance. Lizzie Williams is largely untested at this level but the course and time trial suit her. Likewise Italian Valentina Scandolara shouldn't be discounted.

Christine Majerus

The team only brings four riders but the Champion of Luxembourg Christine Majerus is in very good form right now and has finished in the top 10 here before. After a solid classics campaign finished top 10 in every stage and third overall at the Energiewacht Tour. Most impressive was here prologue result, finishing fifth. A longer test here and often inconsistent against the clock but with the form she is on could remain in contention.

It will be interesting to see how Junior World Champion Amalie Dideriksen performs.

Audrey Cordon

Cordon has had a strong season with a win at Cholet Pays de Loire Dames. Fell ill before Ronde van Vlaanderen but could challenge for a strong result here. Her Wiggle Honda squad has cancelled its participation at Ronde van Overijssel due to illness within the team.

The course is good for Cordon who does well on undulating terrain. If she can perform well in the short time trial will be in contention. Finished second overall and third in the ITT at the Tour de Bretagne Féminin last year. While the competition here is much higher it is a sign of what she is capable of.

Lotto Soudal

The team may not have an outright favourite but they have riders who could surprise. The underrated Jessie Daams has just returned from injury and finished a respectable 34th at Fleche Wallonne. Was Lotto's top finished last year in 14th, missing the top 10 by three seconds. Two other top 2 performances in the past. Still returning from injury but is very consistent.

The same goes for Carlee Taylor, another underrated rider who often rides in support of others but when she gets an opportunity for herself posts a strong result. 17th in 2012 and 24th last year. The road stages suit her and can ride a strong TT.

In Amy Cure and Elena Cecchini the team has two strong sprinters who can climb well. Cure is one of the best in the world in the individual pursuit and the opening time trial is slightly longer it is still an ideal distance for Cure. A strong time trial and the potential to challenge for bonus seconds. Cecchini is a rider on the rise packs a quick finish and prefers a hard course to get the best result.

Liv Plantur

Last year Amy Pieters finished a strong eighth overall thanks in part to a strong opening prologue. At nearly six kilometres though it will be a hard ask for Pieters to repeat that performance. Eight top 10 finishes in 2015 including second at Boels Rental Ronde van Drenthe. In Floortje Mackaij and Sabrina Stultiens the team has two young and in form riders who could go well.

Ann-Sophie Duyck

The increased distanced against the clock will help the chances of the Belgium TT Champion. One of the best in the world against the clock and fifth place finisher at the World Championships last year. Would probably prefer a longer distance but if she can finish in the top five in the TT is likely to maintain a strong finish overall.

Annemiek Van Vleuten and Bigla

Annemiek Van Vleuten is a prologue specialist and has twice won the test against the clock here, though that was when the distance was around two kilometres. Taking the win over the longer distance is not out of the question but will be a harder task. As long as she limits her losses Van Vleuten can still challenge for the win. Is on some of the best form we have seen for years as evidenced by her second place finish at Flèche Wallonne

Ashleigh Moolman and Shelley Olds are both names to keep an eye on. The increased distance against the clock is a disadvantage for Olds but if she can limit her losses then with bonus seconds could bring herself back in to contention for a top 10 or top 5 finish. Finished third last year off the back of her strength against the clock over a short distance. Moolman was in good form at Flèche Wallonne finishing fourth but again the biggest test will be the time trial.

Other names to watch: Valentina Scandolara, Giorgia Bronzini, Sofie De Vuyst, Elinor Barker, Christina Siggaard and Janneke Ensing.
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