Rolling out on the time trial course around Herning as the last rider to loud cheers from the Danish crowds, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ-SUEZ) had a daunting task on stage 4 of the Tour of Scandinavia: She had to limit her losses to Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) to less than 12 seconds if she wanted to defend the yellow leader’s jersey. In the end, Uttrup Ludwig was 29 seconds slower than Van Vleuten, dropping down to second overall with a 17-second deficit.
“You always hope you can defend the leader’s jersey. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do that … but there is another day tomorrow,” she told Cyclingnews after the podium presentations.
Having crossed the finish line and learned that she had lost the yellow jersey, the 28-year-old was visibly disappointed and received hugs and words of comfort from the stage winner, her teammate Grace Brown, her sports director Nicolas Maire, and her coach René Lynge.
After a few minutes away from the spotlight, she went on stage to receive the green points jersey that she still holds and will wear on stage 5. Back from the podium, she posed for photos with the home crowds before turning to interview duties and revealing that she hasn’t given up on the yellow jersey yet.
”It’s only 17 seconds! Of course, we will give it a shot. It would be crazy just to throw in the towel. No, no, no, we are racers. We race to the last moment, and it isn’t over until the fat lady sings,” Uttrup Ludwig promised that stage 5 would not simply be a procession.
Winning the summit-finish stage 2 was a big relief for her after a season where things hadn’t gone her way until then – epitomised in the World Championships Road Race where she initiated the move that Lotte Kopecky countered to win the rainbow jersey, but Uttrup Ludwig was passed on the last metres by Demi Vollering and ‘only’ won the bronze medal. On the Norefjell, nobody could pass her in the sprint after she had again made the race.
“I get really emotional thinking back to it, actually. Everything just came together, and I am proud of the way I raced, the same way I raced the Worlds, that’s how I like to do it,” Uttrup Ludwig was very happy with what she achieved of the Tour of Scandinavia so far.
But the race isn’t over yet: “We will give it all we have,” was her promise for the final day, a 144-kilometre stage from Middelfart to Haderslev.