On the stage 4 time trial in Herning, Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar Team) assumed the Tour of Scandinavia lead from stage 2 winner Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ-SUEZ), taking 29 seconds from the Dane on the 16.5-kilometre course. But as the 40-year-old veteran told Cyclingnews after the podium ceremony, she was far from certain she could pass the Danish climber in the general classification.
“I was a bit afraid that my readiness to suffer is ending because it’s the end of my career and this is a bit of a bonus race. I know that I am a good time trialist, but I can do it only a couple of times per year that I really want to suffer and to push yourself over the limit when you’re at the end of your career is a bit challenging. I was curious if I still had the eagerness to suffer, but yes, I did, so that was good.”
“I’m quite surprised, but happy with the result. I expected that it would be a challenge for Cecilie Uttrup to keep the jersey. But I also know that with yellow on your shoulders, you have more readiness to suffer a bit extra, she also did a good TT,” Van Vleuten told Cyclingnews.
Together with the Simac Ladies Tour in her home country in early September, the Tour of Scandinavia is part of Van Vleuten’s final races after a long and illustrious career in which she won practically every race there is to win.
She was visibly relaxed in Herning, joking with team staff, exuding happiness and even taking care of the entertainment while the crowds were waiting for her teammate Emma Norsgaard, the best Danish rider in the time trial: Van Vleuten gave her GC leader’s bouquet of flowers away to a lucky spectator and posed for photos until Norsgaard showed up at the podium.
Van Vleuten said that she had included the Tour of Scandinavia on her ‘farewell tour’ for a reason, wanting to give visibility to a varied course that also included a time trial.
“I am here because I think the organisers made a nice race parcours; in other years, it was a bit more of the same. It is also nice that they have the TT, I think it’s important to have this discipline – we had some years where we had only one TT a year. It’s an important discipline, we need to keep it alive.”
“Tomorrow is also a nice day with nice ingredients,” she looked forward to the final stage where Uttrup Ludwig has promised to go all-out and attempt to regain the GC lead, giving the Movistar Team and Van Vleuten the task of defending the yellow jersey.