Festival Elsy Jacobs Stage One Report
Bastianelli Dominates Festival Elsy Jacobs
Photo Anouk Flesch
Marta Bastianelli and her UAE Team ADQ team dominated the opening stage of the 2023 Festival Elsy Jacobs on Saturday. The Italian won the 111.1km stage to Steinfort after her team took control of the race from the start.
The former World Champion had been part of a small group of riders who caught five leaders inside the closing kilometre of the race, Bastianelli taking the victory ahead of of New Zealand champion Ally Wollaston (AG Insurance-Soudal Quickstep), with Bastianelli’s team mate Eleonora Gasparrini finishing third.
The race was hugely exciting, the addition of the Côte de Septfontaines on the closing circuit making for aggressive and attritional racing. Luxembourgish rider Nina Berton (Ceratizit-WNT) led over the top of the climb for the first two occasions but was eventually caught just with 21km remaining.
Despite her efforts, the 21 year old stayed in what remained of the peloton, helping out her team mates as the race heated up and the closing kilometres loomed.
On the final, unclassified ascent of the Côte de Septfontaines the UNO-X team came to the front of the peloton, lifted the pace and reduced the bunch to just a handful of riders. Then, on a smaller climb after Koerich attacks reduced the leading group to just four women, Luxembourgish national champion Christine Majerus, Anouska Koster (UNO-X), Arianna Fidanza (Ceratizit-WNT) and Bastianelli’s team mate, Gasparini.
They were joined by Wollaston, but with Gasparrini refusing to work, her team mates chasing behind, there was little cohesion in the front group, though even then they took a small lead into the closing kilometre in Steinfort.
Here, as Majerus launched her attack Wollaston took a wrong turn, but was quickly able to regain her position at the back of the group, however, just a few short metres later they were caught by the chasers.
The final 500m of the stage are uphill and with team mates to support her, Bastianelli was put in the perfect position, launching her sprint and taking the win ahead of Wollaston, with Gasparrini in third.
The victory was Bastianelli’s second win in her fourth visit to Festival Elsy Jacobs and she seems set to defend the Ceratizit yellow jersey she won at the 2022 race. Wollaston is second overall, five seconds behind, with Gasparrini seven seconds behind her team mate.
Bastianelli also holds the Skoda are Points classification jersey, while her performance in the hills means Berton leads the climber’s classification and will wear the Farei Services red dot jersey. A strong performance from Wollaston mens she is the best Under 23 rider and will wear the Immo Losch you rider’s white jersey.
Sunday will see the peloton tackle a 115.8km route between Stage de Luxembourg and Garnich after which the winner of the 2023 Festival Elsy Jacobs will be crowned.