The first road stage of the Festival Luxembourgeois Du Cyclisme Féminin Elsy Jacobs forced a significant general classification reshuffle. With only seconds separating the top ten overall after last night’s prologue, GreenEDGE-AIS was prepared for an aggressive race.
“The courses are actually pretty aggressive,” noted Sports Director David McPartland. “They provide very good races. I asked the girls to be aggressive at certain points, and they didn’t have to look too hard to find the opportunity to do that. There a million and one little climbs that provide a chance for groups to get away.”
The peloton split after the first 54 kilometer loop with a group of 60 coming to fore ahead of the five ten-loop circuit laps.
“Rowena Fry was the only rider we lost, so we had the other five girls in the front group,” said McPartland. “With four laps to go, we started attacking. Each of the girls put in at least one good attack to force an animated race.”
Despite the continuous attacks, the bunch remained together 15 kilometers from the finish.
“With 1½ laps to race, Linda Villumsen attacked at the bottom of a climb,” explained McPartland. “She went away with Elisa Longo Borghini [Hitec Products – Minstral Home) and Amber Neben (Specialized-lululemon). Those three got a gap straightaway.”
Ashleigh Moolman (Lotto Belisol Ladies) jumped from the bunch in an attempt to bridge, and Tiffany Cromwell grabbed her wheel.
“Tiff covered the move, and Marianne Vos and a couple others went with her,” said McPartland. “The group ended up making it across to the three out front, so we had two riders in the group of 12.”
The 12-rider lead group had a 20 second gap with one lap left to race.
“We still had Judith [Arndt], Shara [Gillow] and [Amanda] Spratt in what was left of the main bunch,” noted McPartland. “Judith attacked, but it was a bit too late. She didn’t make it across.”
Vos took the stage win to move into the leader’s jersey. Cromwell sprinted in for fifth with Villumsen a few spots back in eighth.
With the time bonuses on offer, Vos now leads Adrie Visser (Skil-Argos), second on the stage, by 13 seconds overall. Villumsen moved up to third on the general classification, 17 seconds behind Vos. GreenEDGE-AIS retains three spots in the top ten overall with Cromwell in ninth and Ardnt in tenth.
“Tomorrow’s course is of a similar nature to what we raced today,” said McPartland. “We even use some of the same roads. It should be another aggressive day with a fierce fight for the time bonuses at the finish.”