We move from the spring classics to stage racing at this week’s Ceratizit Festival Elsy Jacobs in Luxembourg. The three-day tour starts on Friday 30 April. The team’s line up will be 2020 Zwift Academy winner Neve Bradbury, Swiss road champion Elise Chabbey, New Zealand duo Ella Harris and Mikayla Harvey, Hannah Ludwig and Israeli road champion Omer Shapira.
Ella Harris answers some questions ahead of our second stage race of the season.
The tour prologue with a ton of corners is really your cup of tea. How are you going to approach it?
Ella Harris: I’m not sure where my credentials come from for this style of race but I like the positivity in that question!
I won’t be exactly sure how I’ll approach the prologue until I see and ride the course in real life, but it would have to be very hilly and technical for me to not use the TT (time trial) bike. Regardless the prologue is only 2km, so I’ll be going down the starting ramp at full steam and not holding anything back. I’m looking forward to the prologue because I like riding by myself – especially on the Canyon Speedmax. Although an ideal TT for me would be quite a bit longer, I think there is definitely a strength element to the course so I hope to lay down the power for a good time.
It’s your first time racing this tour, how do you research information about it?
Ella Harris: I’ve been using Veloviewer to get a feel for the terrain and have also compared the course maps to previous years, to find the features that remain unchanged and sections that I can previous race replays for. One thing I like to do is use street view so I can clarify the style of road, such as width, surface, corners, and the surrounding environment. After watching the last editions and seeing the results, I think we will be in for a very interesting and exciting three days of racing.
What do you know about the three-day tour?
Ella Harris: I have watched this race in previous editions and know that the GC (general classification) battle is usually quite tight and fiercely contested due small time gaps in the prologue, as well as many possible tactics and time bonuses during the stages. I believe the courses lend themselves to having multiple race outcomes through reduced bunch sprints or breakaways. The terrain seems very undulating and relentless, so tends to provide a selection as the race goes on. The field of 120 riders is smaller than the previous races in Belgium which is a nice change, however the competition is very strong with many of the top teams in attendance.
I’m not entirely sure how the team will plan to race yet, but I really liked the way Elise (Chabbey) was racing at Fléche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, so more of the same would be exciting to get amongst. I think it’s important to go into this tour with an open plan and to take it on ourselves at times, as the racing seems to be very dynamic and unpredictable.
At what point do you set your own personal goals for the tour?
Ella Harris: I have been thinking about what I would like to get out of the tour, with those goals being complementary to the plan of the team. In the past three races, I just haven’t felt truly myself or like I was in very good shape, yet I know that based on my current level of fitness and the feelings in training, I am more than ready. I hope that I can just bring my form through into racing to help and contribute to the team plan in whatever way is needed, and gain confidence in my own ability going forward into future races.
Given you broke your femur in August 2020, and your pelvis in January 2021, is it too soon to set big highlights for the 2021 season?
Ella Harris: Yes, I still wouldn’t say that I’m fully into the 2021 season yet so I hope that changes after Festival Elsy Jacobs. If all goes well, I’ll be more than motivated for the upcoming Spanish races in May which previously I have really enjoyed and suited.
HOW TO FOLLOW
The tour can be followed on Twitter with #FElsy. A live broadcast of all three days is set to be on the race website here: www.elsy-jacobs.lu/.
The first rider of the prologue on Friday 30 April starts at 17:30CEST. Stage one, 125km around Steinfort starts at 14:30CEST. Stage two, 105.3km around Garnich starts at 14:00CEST.