Eighth Place for Emma Johansson on Elsy Jacob Stage OneSat 3 May 2014
ORICA-AIS put up a spirited fight for the stage win on the first Elsy Jacobs road stage. Despite their best efforts, Anna van der Breggen (Rabobank Liv) soloed to victory in Garnich, assuming the race lead from her teammate Marianne Vos. Shelley Olds (Alé Cipollini) led home the chase group at 1’11, winning the sprint for second. Emma Johansson proved seventh quickest amongst the chasers to slot into eighth place on the stage.
“I’m pleased with how the team worked cohesively today,” said Sport Director Gene Bates. “Everyone did their jobs the best they could. Unfortunately, we were just outnumbered.”
The peloton split on the large 54 kilometre loop that opened stage one. By the time the bunch hit the circuit for five smaller loops, more than half the field was already out of contention. ORICA-AIS had three riders in the front group. Carlee Taylor and Valentina Scandolara had made the selection alongside Johansson.
“There were a few little hills and a big crosswind section that split up the race in the big loop before the circuit,” explained Bates. “A good portion of the peloton had already gotten gapped off by the time we started the little laps. We had three riders left.”
“Rabobank had six riders in the front group,” Bates added. “Eventually that six in front became one rider up the road and five in the chase. They were in a really good position as far as marking moves. They made every chase attempt so negative that everything came back the bunch.”
Van der Breggen made her race winning move on the third of five laps. She instantly opened up a gap. Five kilometres later, Johansson attempted to bridge across to the lone leader.
“It was a really good effort,” said Bates. “She said she felt really strong. Unfortunately Ferrand Prevot and Vos went with her. With a teammate up the road, neither of them were going to ride. That went back to the bunch quickly.
Inside the final five kilometres, Scandolara jumped from the bunch. She was swallowed up by the peloton as they increased the pace with the sprint for second looming.
“The presence of Valentina right at the finish is really good,” said Bates. ‘We haven’t seen her at the pointy end of a race in Europe up until this point. It’s good to see her coming into form leading into Britain and the bigger tours in Spain and Italy.”
The Australian outfit will again target a stage win on Sunday. While Bates readily admits his squad will have their work cut out for them on the final day of the three day Luxembourgish tour, he expects nothing less than another animated attempt for the top step of the stage podium.
“Tomorrow’s course is much easier,” said Bates. “The climb on the circuit isn’t as severe. In previous years, it’s all come down to a bunch kick. The way Rabobank is riding – they’re showing such dominance. It’s going to be difficult to back it up."
“We’re going into stage two with a two-pronged attack,” Bates added. “We’ll look to get up the road. Some of our riders are a bit down on time now, so maybe they will get some leeway. If it comes down to a bunch sprint, we have two riders in Nettie [Edmondson] and Mel [Hoskins] that should be competitive in the final.”