Kiwi Ally Wollaston took the overall victory and stage victory in today’s second stage of the Festival Elsy Jacobs. The GC battle came down to the final sprint between Wollaston and the overnight leader after yesterday’s win Marta Bastianelli, with bonus seconds won in the intermediate sprints making the final result even more crucial. Wollaston finished ahead of Bastianelli at both of the intermediates pulling back 2 seconds in total and bringing the deficit in from 5 seconds to just 3. With 4 seconds as the gap between 1st and 2nd on the line, that was enough for Wollaston to win the GC by a single second in Luxembourg.
The peloton raced hard and aggressively on today’s stage, with Marie-Morgane Le Deunff making an early break before being caught and allowing Nina Berton to sew up the QoM jersey well before the end. The rolling terrain of the 10km finish circuit saw attack after attack, with Megan Armitage particularly visible at the front. UAE had moves marked by Eleonora Gasparrini, allowing Bastianelli to roll with the punches in the main group.
After repeated attacks and regroupings, an attack from Anouska Koster finally got a gap with an elite group of Ally Wollaston, Eleonora Gasparrini, Marta Bastianelli and Alice Maria Arzuffi going clear. The group worked well together and having Gasparrini in the group allowed Bastianelli an armchair ride and put the writing on the wall. As it was, Gasparrini led the group to the 200m to-go mark where she peeled off and left Wollaston in the wind. However, the New Zealander was strong enough to sprint from there and hold off the challenge of Bastianelli.
“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. 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 teammates today so I’m really proud.”Ally Wollaston
2023 Festival Elsy Jacobs Stage 2 result
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Main photo credit: Anouk Flesch