ORICA-AIS looking to cap off spring season on high in Luxembourg

Wed 29 Apr 2015

After a somewhat rocky start to the 2015 European season, ORICA-AIS are looking to cap off their spring campaign on a high at Festival Luxembourgeois as they look to move into the next phase of the season.

Known in full as the Festival Luxembourgeois du cyclisme feminin Elsy Jacobs, named after the very first winner of a women’s UCI world champion road race, the three-day Tour features an opening twilight prologue followed by two road stages.

“You sneeze in a race like this and it’s all over,” sport director Gene Bates said. “Three stages, a short prologue and two road stages, you can’t afford to make any mistakes at all.“

“It’ll be about having a good time trial and piecing the three days together by backing it up with a solid ride on Saturday and finish it off on Sunday.  Consistency is key to win the Tour.”

The victims of some injuries and illness, the Australian women’s outfit concedes they haven’t had the desired season to date, but as things are heading in the right direction are confident of improvement going forward, starting this Friday.

“Luxembourg symbolises the end of spring racing for us,” Bates said. “From this point on we go into a bit of a rest period, a mental break and then the team training camp in Tuscany leading into the big Tours we did.”

“Obviously things haven’t gone exactly to plan so far. We have had illness and injuries along the way, but things are starting to head in the right direction for the girls and they will be keen to put that on the road this weekend and really end spring on a positive note.

“If we can get a good result this weekend, the mood will be really good going into the training camp and first few races after and that is going to be really important.”

The opening 5.6km prologue is slightly longer than the team undertook twelve months ago and includes an opening climb in the first kilometre before descending towards another 400m uphill drag to the finish.

“Normally I would say the time trial is something that would suit Melissa Hoskins,” Bates sad.  “She had a reasonable result there last year, it was a little bit shorter and probably a little bit more technical.

“The not so technical aspect of it suits her a bit better but we will have a look at the course over the next couple of days and see what the hill is actually like, whether is it something we need to take into consideration or if it’s just a ‘bump’.

“But all the riders will go flat our during the prologue as a bit of a hit out and a good way of opening up the system for the next two road stages.”

The road stages over the weekend have similar styles in consisting of one larger lap, followed by a local finishing circuit.

Saturday’s 102.6km stage two looks to be more difficult with two climbs on the 9.8km finishing circuit to be undertaken on five occasions.

“Saturday is definitely more selective than Sunday,” Bates said. “Last year we saw one Rabobank rider ride away solo so it’s quite difficult but I still think we will come down to a small sprint finish of maybe three or four riders.”

Emma Johansson is really building up good form and Amanda Spratt also. I imagine those two and potentially Katrin Garfoot, also, to really be there at the pointy end of the race on Saturday.”

Racing wraps up on Sunday with a 99.1km final stage. Again the nine kilometre finishing circuit features a climb, but it is not anticipated to cause too much damage to the bunch.

“The last couple of years we’ve seen a reasonably big bunch come into the finish despite those couple of hills because it’s just a really fast climb,” Bates explained.    “You might get rid of a few of your pure sprinters but most people will survive that.”

“We will see how Saturday goes, try and put Emma, Spratty or Garfoot in a good position overall and then either look to consolidate than on Sunday or depending on how the race goes on Saturday, go for a stage win on Sunday.”

ORICA-AIS at Festival Luxembourgeois du cyclisme feminin Elsy Jacobs (1 - 3 May):

Katrin Garfoot
Melissa Hoskins 
Emma Johansson
Valentina Scandolara
Amanda Spratt
Lizzie Williams