Final report – Festival Elsy Jacobs 2023
Aggressive Elsy Jacobs performance being Ally Wollaston a first stage race overall victory
New Zealand champion Ally Wollaston won the 15th edition of the Festival Elsy Jacobs in Luxembourg on Sunday, the 22 year-old winning the final stage to take the overall.
After finishing second in the opening stage behind Marta Bastianelli (UAE Team ADQ), the AG Insurance-Soudal Quickstep rider began the day second overall, five seconds behind the Italian rider. However, she and her team mates set the race alight, with a dominant and aggressive performance.
On the day’s first intermediate sprint Wollaston collected two bonus seconds to Bastianelli’s one, gaining a further bonus second over the Italian at the second sprint, reducing her deficit to just three.
As the race progressed both women seemed to be tiring and their ability to contest the stage win, and the 10, six and four bonus seconds on the line, was in question. This suited Bastianelli more than Wollaston, but she still needed to defend attacks from other riders.
Aggressive racing by a number of teams meant the peloton was smaller at the end of each lap of the 10km closing circuit around the village of Garnich. By the time race entered the final 10km only a small group was left at the front and this thinned further when Bastianelli sent her team mate Eleonora Gasparrini up the road.
Gasparrini started the day third overall, just two seconds behind Wollaston and was a threat, so the New Zealander was forced to chase, dragging Bastianelli back to the front of the race, leaving five women to contest the stage.
Wollaston, Gasparrini and Bastianelli were joined by Alice Maria Arzuffi (Ceratizit-WNT) and Anouska Koster (UNO-X) who all worked well into the final kilometre when Gasparrini took over. With a chasing group closing in she led until around 200m to go leaving Wollaston no choice but to open her sprint early.
However, Bastianelli was unable to come round the younger rider and Wollaston took the stage win. With an extra 10 seconds she also took the overall by one second ahead of last year’s winner, Bastianelli.
Wollaston was very happy with her first stage race General Classification win; “It feels really really good. I made a really major mistake yesterday, taking a wrong turn before the finish, and I had a lot of motivation for today and I’m really happy to pull off the win today,” she said before revealing some nerves in the final kilometres.
“I was panicking a little bit, I looked up and saw some really key girls up the road and just thought that if I had hesitated they’d be gone. I had my DS on the radio saying ‘you need to go now’ so that’s exactly what I did, I brought Marta across a few times, but I knew I had to to win.
“I’d say poor positioning going though the finishing straight and onto that kicker. The first few laps were quite easy through there, but the last two were really, really hard and that caught me off guard a few times. So some key learning going forward to switch on a little bit more and I was lucky that I had my team mates up the road which really helped me out. I couldn’t have done it without my team mates today so I’m really proud.”
Wollaston dominated the podium, winning the Ceratizit yellow jersey for overall win, the Immo Losch white young rider’s jersey and the green Skoda points jersey. The Farei Services red dot jersey for the Queen of the Mountains was won by Lxembourgish rider, Nina Berton (Ceratizit-WNT).