Looking back on the RideLondon Classique and the Tour of Norway
Not only in ItaIy the riders of Team Jumbo-Visma raced last week. We rode also i...
Last weekend the classic cycling season ended with Liège-Bastogne-Liège, but that doesn't mean the riders of Team Jumbo-Visma Women are taking it easy. On Friday, they will be at the start of the Ceratizit Festival Elsy Jacobs in Luxembourg. Among them is Karlijn Swinkels, who just missed out on the podium in 2021. Her drive to do better this year is bigger than ever.
Festival Elsy Jacobs is a three-day stage race. It starts on Friday 29 April, with a 2.2-kilometre prologue. On Saturday and Sunday, a hilly stage race is on the programme. Last year, Swinkels finished third in the short time trial. She finished seventh in the first stage and ninth in the final stage. It resulted in fourth place in the general classification, just outside the podium. This year she would like to finish at least one place higher.
"We have a strong team at the start with several girls who can make it to the podium", the 23-year-old rider said. "This race suits us well; we can ride for the win. We feel good about each other as a team and we have all grown as riders. We have learned to communicate better during the race and show leadership. We will definitely do that during Elsy Jacobs. In addition, I have also taken steps in my personal development this spring. I have shown that I can be important far into the final. This weekend, I will take my chances and am confident that I can get far."
This year, the prologue will also start in Cessange. The riders will start at 293 metres altitude, descend to 286 metres on the way and finish at 205 metres altitude. Swinkels has learned from last year's edition.
"Last year, I didn't take some turns well. I blamed myself for that. This year I'm going to do it differently. I have already visualised the race many times. I know exactly how fast I can take the corners, where to shift gears and when to brake. In addition, I've also done a lot of technical training on the time trial bike in recent weeks, so my physical preparation is also good. It is my dream to win a prologue. Maybe I will succeed here, maybe later, but everything will come together one day."
"If we can find the cooperation next weekend, we should be able to get a podium place this year"
Saturday's stage is 121.4 km long, with start and finish in Steinfort. The course includes four local laps of 20.1 kilometres. The final stage will take place around Garnich. The course is also hilly and is 109.3 km long. This time there are five 10-kilometre local laps. The riders will have to climb the Côte de Nospelt (2700 meters at 4.0%), Côte de Simmerschmelz (1800 meters at 4.9%) and Côte de Réibierg (1600 meters at 4.5%).
"This course suits me", Swinkels states. "The hills are not too steep. They're doable for me. I'm not a real climber, but I do have enough explosiveness and I like tough races. I should be able to perform well in Luxembourg."
According to Swinkels, that also applies to her teammates, Anna Henderson, Amber Kraak, Noemi Ruëgg and Jip van den Bos. "We are all different types of riders with different qualities, but if we can cooperate well this weekend, we should be able to get a podium place this year."
Elsy Jacobs was the first female world champion on the road in 1958. That same year, she also broke the world hour record. Jacobs cycled 41.347 kilometres and held the record for fourteen years. From 1959 to 1974, the cyclist was Luxembourg's champion. Ceratizit Festival Elsy Jacobs has existed since 2008 and was named in honour of this exceptional cycling talent.
The prologue on Friday 28 April starts at 2 pm.
Stage 1 starts on Saturday 30 April at 2.30 pm.
Stage 2 starts on Sunday 1 May at 2 pm.