Luxembourg, 2-stage road race + prologue, 203.5km
If you love women's professional cycling - and, since you're reading an article about a women's professional cycle race on a website devoted to women's professional cycling, it seems at least reasonably likely that you do - there's a very great deal to love about the Festival du Ely Jacobs: having started as a race, it's become a three-day celebration of the sport, the athletes and the uniquely involved, passionate fans that women's cycling attracts.
|2012 winner Marianne Vos
The first edition was won by the Italian Monia Baccaille, then Russian Svetlana Bubnenkova won in 2009 and Britain's Emma Pooley (better known as a climber) won the last criterium race in 2010. Since then, the race has been dominated by one woman - the Grand Duchess for the 21st Century Marianne Vos won in 2011 (she won the GP Niolas Frantz too, because she's Vos), then won the Elsy Jacobs stage and the General Classification in 2012 when she beat her team mate Annemiek van Vleuten, who had won the Prologue and the GP Frantz stage, by 13" overall. Vos, current World Champion, recently won the Ronde van Vlaanderen after many years of trying and seems to be on even better form than in previous years; she'll be favourite among many fans for another victory here this year.
|Prologue - click to enlarge
The start line is located on the Rue du Marche at the Chateau du Mamer (which now houses the town hall), with the riders passing by it before a sharp right-hand bend just 150m from the line. An easy left at a tarmac-covered circle leads east for 470m along a narrow road through parkland, then a tighter left leads onto the much wider Rue de la Liberation, ending at another left onto the Rue du Marche 482m ahead. After 150m, a gentle right carries them along the Rue J. Barthel for 170m to another left and the Rue du Millenaire which, following a wide left-hand bend 150m ahead becomes the Rue de Dippach running straight for 260m to the finish line next to the football ground. The total distance is 1.8km, short enough for riders to put in all their strength right from the start without needing to worry about conserving energy for later; with an absence of hills (there are a couple of inclines of around 4.5%, but they rise only 3m) we can expect to see some very fast average speeds.
|prologue altimetry - click to enlarge
1 Annemiek VAN VLEUTEN (Rabobank) 02'29"
2 Marianne VOS (Rabobank) +01"
3 Annette EDMONDSON (Orica-AIS) +02"
4 Laura TROTT (Wiggle-Honda) +04"
5 Emma JOHANSSON (Orica-AIS) +05"
6 Amanda SPRATT (Orica-AIS) ST
7 Tatiana GUDERZO (MCipollini-Giordana) ST
8 Adrie VISSER (Boels-Dolmans) ST
9 Jessie MACLEAN (Orica-AIS) +06"
10 Anna VAN DER BREGGEN (Sengers) ST
Full result and GC here
GP Elsy Jacobs (27.04.2013)
The centrepiece of the race, Stage 2 consists of 53.6km main route followed by five laps of a 9.8km circuit. The riders set out from the Rue des Trois Cantons in Jacobs' birthplace Garnich and head north via Windhof; both towns are located on hills approximately 335m in height with a valley in between. Following a short climb when leaving Garnich the riders travel downhill, experiencing gradients as steep as -7% in places, while the climb to Windhof reaches 4.4%. Most of the section from Windhof to Koerich slopes gently downhill, but the final 1.25km is steeper, at one point reaching -8% - potentially just sufficient for a small group of riders to get away in an early break.
|Map - click to enlarge
Having crossed the A7 motorway as it disappears underground into a tunnel, the riders dip only briefly into Mersch on the Rue Quatre-Vents before turning right onto the Rue de Langheck, a junction marked as dangerous in the road book. It leads them onto the CR102 leading to Schoenfels, where they switch to the CR101 continuing south to Kopstal, then onward to a junction with the Route d'Arlon heading into Mamer to the the Rue du Commerce.
Keeping left as the Rue de Commerce forks takes the riders onto the Rue de Dippach - a road that will rapidly become familiar as one of those used in yesterday's time trial. Just past the Prologue finish line at the football ground, a tight right turn takes the road through a short tunnel under a railway, through fields and into a forest where, 3.75m from the tunnel, it joins the CR103. This section climbs all the way and, coming near to the return to Garnich, could potentially change the race entirely - a break could be caught, ruining its chances in the final laps at Garnich, and a group of climbers could get away and enter the laps with a handy advantage. Dippach lies 1.5km after the junction; when they reach the right turn onto the N5, the riders have covered 48.2km. At the far side of the town they turn right at a roundabout onto the N13 leading to Dahlem, then follow the road for 4km as it bends right and heads north back to Garnich. The first half of this section is flat, the second descends all the way before climbing 8m in the last 0.4km to return to the start line.
|GP Elsy Jacobs altimetry - click to enlage
2km later the riders reach Dalhem and turns right, once again heading north to return to Garnich, where the riders will have covered 63.4km at the completion of the first lap, 73.2 after the second, 83 after the third, 92.8 after the fourth and 102.6 after the fifth, as which point the race ends.
GP Nicolas Frantz (28.04.2013)
|GP Nicolas Frantz altimetry - click to enlarge
The race again ends with five laps of a circuit. Having taken the same route through the tunnel under the motorway and onto the CR102 into the forest, the riders turn a sharp right to head north on the CR103 to Holzem where a right turn carries them via the Route de Garnich onto the CR101, then back to Mamer. 216m after the bridge over the railway, another right takes the Rue de Millenaire back to the start line. GPM points are awarded at the Montee du Barendal on the main parcours, located at 51.2km as the riders make the first return to Mamer, and 3.1km after the railway tunnel (57.5 and 66.5km from the start of the race) on the first and second laps of the circuit.
More information closer to race day