Festival Elsy Jacobs, the 3-day race in Luxembourg, kicked off Friday with a short (2.7km) time trial Prologue leading into two 100+km road stages on Saturday and Sunday. CCC-Liv grabbed a podium at the start Friday when Riejanne Markus road a 4 minute 25 second TT, placing third. On Saturday’s 107km road race, Marta Lach sprinted to her first stage win of the season. Sunday almost delivered another win for CCC-Liv, but Markus’ solo effort was caught just 25 meters from the finish line – Evy Kuijpers crossed the line seventh with Markus just behind in tenth.
CCC-Liv’s approach to the race was to be flexible, according to sports director Jeroen Blijlevens.
“Our tactics often depend on the way the stage develops,” said Blijlevens. “If it turns into a sprint, then we want to position Riejanne ahead. The fun about the Elsy Jacobs GP, however, is that a few teams are expected to be able to control the race, so the stages can be unpredictable. Where possible, we will jump away with groups.”
After Markus’ successful Prologue, it was Lach who hit the start line feeling good under the rain for Saturday’s stage. For much of the race the peloton stayed bunched together, waiting for the finishing circuit to make moves. When a breakaway attempt went clear, five riders chased – including Lach. Lach and two others held on until the final meters, where she was able to seal the deal with a powerful sprint to the finish aboard her Langma Advanced SL.
“When I looked behind in the last kilometer, I saw the peloton approaching,” said Lach. “At 500 meters, I tried but my two competitors reconnected. At less than 300 meters, I hit the pedals again and crossed the finish line. A fantastic feeling.”
After two stunning stages, CCC-Liv was positioned well for the overall and used the team well on the final stage to position Markus at the front heading into the final kilometers. Markus made her breakaway attempt five kilometers from the finish, but was caught by the peloton just before the finish in heartbreaking fashion. Still, she finished among the top-ten and sixth in the general classification, just 12 seconds back.
Next up, CCC-Liv will take on the Amgen Tour of California, May 16-18.