Movin' on Up: Two in Elsy Jacobs Top Three OverallSat 27 Apr 2013
Emma Johansson sprinted to fifth on the first Festival Luxembourgeois – Elsy Jacobs road stage. Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda) won in Garnich from a group of 20 riders, in which ORICA-AIS had placed four riders. Johansson’s efforts afforded her a three spot jump on the overall. The Swede now sits in second place, 4” behind race leader Marianne Vos (Rabobank-Liv Giant) ahead of the final stage. Amanda Spratt is one spot further back, tied on time, in third overall.
The Australian outfit intended to stay attentive but relaxed during the 54 kilometre circuit that opened stage one. From the large lap, the race travelled to the smaller 10 kilometre circuit for five local laps. Each lap included rolling roads and one significant climb.
“The race started quickly on the big lap,” said Sport Director Dave McPartland. “Two riders went up the road. They gained two minutes but were brought back on the finish circuit.”
“We weren’t as well-positioned as a team as I would have hoped when we hit the circuit and the pace picked up,” admitted McPartland. “Shara [Gillow] attacked on the first lap in an attempt to soften up the competition. She made her move on the climb as planned, but it didn’t have quite the impact we had expected.”
Gillow was brought back to the bunch, and Johansson took her turn on lap two. Although the move was short-lived, it served to whittle down the field.“With two laps completed and three to go, there were only 30 or 40 riders left in the field,” said McPartland.
“We had Tiff [Tiffany Cromwell], Spratty [Amanda Spratt], Jess [Jessie MacLean], Emma and Shara. We had lost Nettie [Annette Edmondson] on lap two, and we’d lose Jess on lap three. We definitely had the most numbers as the size of the bunch began to shrink.”
“Nothing much eventuated on lap three, and I think we let ourselves down a bit on the second to last lap – on lap four,” McPartland continued. “We had the best numbers, and we didn’t use them to our advantage the way we usually do. We should have been more aggressive here instead of leaving it down to the last lap when we had only 10 kilometres left to make an impact.”
Johansson made one last attempt to bid adieu to the peloton, launching an attack on the final lap. She was unable to put any distance between herself and the field.
“Her move strung out the bunch before it was brought back,” said McPartland. “There were around 20 riders left at that point. We had agreed to sprint for Emma if it came down to a bunch kick, but that was truly our Plan B.”
ORICA-AIS set up their sprint train for Johansson and delivered her to fifth on the stage.
“It was a good result with all the work she had done earlier in the day,” said McPartland. “We’re happy to see Emma and Spratty move up on the overall. It will be hard to gain on time on Vos tomorrow, but we’re certainly going to give it our best shot.”