Born in Pfaffental on 4 March 1933, Elsy Jacobs was the youngest of seven children living in Garnich. According to the unanimous opinion of her relatives, she quickly revealed a strong and mischievous character.
Like three of her brothers, Elsy had a passion for cycling and decided to make cycling her life. The time was not right; women were mostly excluded from professional sport. A true pioneer, Elsy began a relentless fight to impose professionalism in women's cycling.
Elsy raced in France, Belgium and the Netherlands without a licence until 1954, and was excluded more than once. But she was so determined that she continued to race without a licence until the CSM Puteaux team took her on as a contract rider. In 1958 the International Cycling Union (UCI) finally agreed to organise world championships for women. From that moment on, Elsy's career took off, finally winning the 1958 World Road Cycling Championship. This victory and her determination earned her the nickname "Grand Duchess".
After her world championship title, Elsy was coveted by all the cycling race organisers in Europe. A lifelong adventurer, she now lives between two suitcases. On 21 June 1959, she "finally" wore her first red-white-and-blue tricolour Luxembourg champion's jersey, which she held for all but one year until 1974. In total, she won 15 Luxembourg road titles. During her career, she officially took part in 1.059 races and won 301 of them. She also held the (women's) world hour record since 1958. This record stood for 14 years.
In 1974, the Luxembourg federation refused to register her for the world championship. She left Luxembourg, took French nationality and moved to Brittany. Until 1996, she coached youth teams there.
The champion died on 28 February 1998.
For several years Garnich has paid tribute to Elsy Jacobs: the sports hall bears her name and since 2000 the Elsy Jacobs Race has been organised there every year. Since 2008, the Elsy Jacobs Grand Prix has been held here. The race is on the official UCI programme.
● http://www.elsy-jacobs.lu/histoire/texte Gaston Zangerlé
● http://www.cid-femmes.lu - biography of Elsy Jacobs