In Her Own Words: Jessie MacLean Previews Elsy Jacobs

Thu 1 May 2014

Since the UCI season opened in February with the Tour of Qatar, the women have had only one other stage race on the UCI calendar - the Enegiewacht Tour in early April. With a block of one day races in Belgium and Holland behind them, ORICA-AIS returns to the rigors of stage racing at the three day Festival Luxembourgeois du Cyclisme Féminin Elsy Jacobs

The tour is named after Elsy Jacobs, the first woman to win the UCI World Championship Road Race in 1958. Seven years ago, the race was only a Randonnée, a mass participation ride. In 2009 it gained status on the UCI calendar as a single day race. Two years later, a team time trial was added. The race expanded to a three day tour in 2012.

Ahead of her second start of the Luxembourgish stage race, Jessie MacLean previews Elsy Jacobs in her own words.

The race is run over rolling roads that are in fairly good condition. It is similar to racing in Germany in that respect. It’s a cool time of year with a high possibility of rain. And, like in Germany, there is none of the road furniture that is so ubiquitous in Belgium and Holland.

During last year’s prologue, a lot of riders were caught in pouring rain. It was a technical, short course with bits on a bike path. This year the evening prologue returns on a slightly longer course with fewer technical turns.

The prologue will be our first one of the year. Personally, I love prologues so I am quite excited for it. I think the trackies would agree that they are fun. It’s unfortunate that we don’t get to do them more often. In fact, it was the only one we raced all of last year and probably the only one we’ll race this year.

The prologue itself is a great way to set up the GC order without having major time gaps. It’s a short, fast and exciting type of race that really hurts for such a brief effort.

Each road race starts with the same 54 kilometre opening loop. It’s rolling and fast and includes a lot of descending. There will be a lot of attacks on this loop but it’s usually too fast for anything to stick. The race doesn’t really start until we get to the five finishing laps.

As we come into the circuit on stage one, there is a fairly steep and narrow climb. There will be a big fight for position before this climb. The peloton will get strung out here because of the narrow road. It’s important to be at the front because gaps could open up without thos at the back knowing about it since the field will be so strung out. If you’re not at the front when that happens, your race could be over.

Stage two is not as technical as the first but it does feature a significant climb in the finishing circuits. The roads here are much wider, so getting caught off guard because you can’t see the front isn’t much of an issue.

So far this year, we’ve seen a lot of good battles in the single day races, especially between Emma [Johansson] and Lizzie [Elizabeth Armitstead] (Boesl Dolmans) in the World Cups. But we’ve also seen a lot of teams with different cards to play. It seems there is a larger spread of talent across the teams this year. There are the standouts of each team but there are also a few dark horses, which has made for more exciting and unpredictable racing.

For Elsy Jacobs, we have Nettie [Annette Edmondson], Mel [Melissa Hoskins] and Emma who can do well in the prologue. We’ll see how the prologue goes, but I think we’ll have a few different options for the next two stages. Mel has been climbing well so we could set up the sprint for her to take some pressure of Emma. We are looking forward to a change from all the one day racing, so expect to see a little more excitement injected into our racing strategy.

ORICA-AIS for Elsy Jacobs:

Annette Edmondson
Carlee Taylor
Emma Johansson
Jessie MacLean
Melissa Hoskins
Valentina Scandolara