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Tour de France Femmes

Tour de France Femmes: Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig ‘a dead fish’ after finishing third on ‘queen stage’

The Danish rider is closing in on a podium place, but has some time to make up on the final stage.

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MULHOUSE, France (VN) — Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig was not her usual animated self at the end of stage 7 of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift.

The FDJ-Suez-Futuroscope rider had to dig deep over the brutal mountain stage and she was utterly spent, like most of the peloton.

Uttrup Ludwig came to the line in a group with Kasia Niewiadoma and Juliette Labous, which was just over five minutes behind the solo stage winner Annemiek van Vleuten and just under two behind second-placed Demi Vollering.

“I did everything I could,” Uttrup Ludwig laughed as she talked outside the team bus having got changed following the stage. “I gave everything I had, so I’m a dead fish. I couldn’t have done any more. Annemiek and Demi were just too strong.”

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Uttrup Ludwig, and much of the peloton, were unable to follow when Van Vleuten made her move over the Petit Ballon, the first climb of the day. From there, it was all about maintaining a steady pace and keeping the gap to Van Vleuten as small as they could.

FDJ had numbers in the early part of the stage and the team worked to pace Uttrup Ludwig and the rest of the group up the climbs. By the time the group reached the final ascent up the Grand Ballon, she was alone with Labous and Niewiadoma.

Niewiadoma led the group through the final kilometers of the climb before the short descent and then a flat run towards the finish. Uttrup Ludwig held on before launching a powerful sprint that would see her gain two seconds on her companions by the time she reached the line.

“She was super strong, she just paced it,” Uttrup Ludwig said of Niewiadoma. “I was just telling myself ‘stay there’ and then in the end it was a bit of a rolling flat to the finish. I always like a little sprint at the end and especially when it goes a little uphill. A podium at the end of the stage, we can be proud, even if it was a bit behind. We did our best.”

Just one stage remains of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift and Uttrup Ludwig is just inside 1:30 off a podium spot. It’s a lot of time to make up in one stage, but it will be another really tough day with ascents of the Ballon d’Alsace and the Super Planche des Belles Filles.

“Tomorrow is another mega-hard stage. We need good legs and then we will see tomorrow,” she said.