Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig has perfectly summed up a captivating edition of La Course with some of her trademark flair.
The Bigla Pro Cycling rider found herself in a small group of hitters with around 40km left to race, only to be caught and fight hard to take a podium spot on the line.
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As Marianne Vos (CCC-Liv) decimated the reduced bunch on the final climb in Pau, Uttrup held her nerve and sprinted to third, her best finish in the race.
Speaking after the stage, the 23-year-old said: “It’s a beautiful sunny day to have some fun.
“The race was actually quite hard and there was a lot of tactical games being played.
“I tried to have ice in the stomach as they say, keep it cool, and then we knew the last lap was going to be a bunch sprint. In a situation like that Marianne is a pretty good wheel to have. It was a fight to that last left corner then it was just full gas up.
“It was such a good ride [for me] and the team did amazing and we had two riders in the breakaway so we were always represented.”
Uttrup finished fourth in La Course last year, going one better in 2019 as the women’s peloton fired around laps of the men’s time trial course for stage 13 of the Tour de France.
Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) was the animator in the final, launching a long-range solo attack that only failed on the final climb with 400 metres left to race, as Marianne Vos pulled out a gap and blasted the peloton to take victory.
Uttrup said: “I’m improving one spot at a time, so in a couple of years maybe I’ll stand on the top step.
“We had fun and it’s so nice to finish it off with a podium for the team.
“Everyone wanted [Vos’s] wheel. She’s just super strong. I got as close as I could and the girls helped me at the end to try and position. All in all I think we can be proud.”
Britain’s Pfeiffer Georgi also helped her Sunweb team to an impressive second place with Leah Kirchmann.
Georgi, riding her first La Course in her debut season in the women’s WorldTour at 18 years old, had been tasked with working for the team early in the race.
She told Cycling Weekly after the stage: “It was good, the team were really strong.
“With those two main climbs and then that little kick at the end, you always had to be on the ball and be at the front.
“I really enjoyed it. With the crowds, I’ve never had anything like that before so it’s exciting.”