Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig resisted numerous attacks on the final stage to secure her first ever WorldTour stage race victory at the Tour of Scandinavia on Sunday.
The FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope rider began the final day with a slender 17 second lead on DSM’s Liane Lippert who, in turn was determined to depose her rival.
On the final of three-and-a-half laps of the finish town Lippert attacked on a short, sharp cobbled climb, instantly getting a gap Uttrup Ludwig was forced to close herself. With Lippert caught Uttrup Ludwig secured the overall, with the German in second place and Alex Manly (BikeExchange-Jayco) third on GC.
The stage was won by Marianne Vos, her fourth of a week of gnarly, classics style stages which suited her perfectly. It was not easy though.
As well as the GC battle raging on the final lap, so was the fight for the stage victory. Vos’s Jumbo-Visma team mate Anouska Koster attacked the bunch on the final circuit, quickly catching a solo attacker, and forging on alone.
The former Dutch champion entered the final 500m with a diminishing lead, BikeExchange-Jayco and Trek-Segafredo desperately trying to bring her back. But Vos was on their wheel, and seeing Koster would be caught, launchd her own sprint, taking the win ahead of Canyon-SRAM’s Shari Bossuyt and Barbara Guarischi (Movistar).
While Vos might have won four of the six stages, and the two long open stages brought negative racing, the race was excellent, with jeopardy surrounding the overall winner into the final two kilometres.
Uttrup Ludwig’s overall victory was built on her stage five mountain top win at Norefjell, and this year has seen the Danish champion mature into a real contender. Though illness meant she started slowly, her stage win at the Tour de France was huge, and only her second WorldTour success.
Though she only finished seventh overall in France, she performed consistently well, proving her form with Saturday’s stage win and the overall victory, her first stage race win since 2017, and her first WorldTour multi day success.
Her FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope team did a consummate job controlling the final stage, allowing the stage six breakaway to build their advantage then controlling the deficit to defend the Danish rider’s 17 second overall lead.
How it happened
For the final stage of its first edition, the Tour of Scandinavia went back to its Ladies Tour of Norway routes, for a stage finish in Halden, the host of town of what was the organising club, and the current organisation.
The town, in the country’s far south-east, overlooks the Idefjord, close to the Swedish border, the race finishing on the water’s edge. But before the riders cold indulge in the post race barbecue overlooked by the town’s Fredriksten Fortress, there was the small matter of the 154.3km stage from Lillestrøm to deal with.
Starting just east of Norway’s capital, Oslo the parcours headed south, along the Øyeren lake, then skirting the Swedish border to the east before dropping down to sea level for three tight, technical and gnarly 5.4km laps of the finish town.
Lumpy all day, there were two third category climbs to deal with, but with the both coming a long way from the line the stage was likely to finish in a bunch sprint, with Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) once again the favourite.
The first climb came after only 7.5km and with that, and after a huge fight a breakaway of five women got away.
By the time Katia Ragusa (Liv-Xstra), Sylvie Swinkels (Coop-Hitec Products), Femke Markus (Parkhotel Valkenburg), Maud Rijnbeek (AG Insurance-NXTG) and British rider April Tacey (Le Col-Wahoo) had covered the opening 50km their lead on the bunch was out to 3-35.
It even extended to five minutes, but when the leaders reached the final 80km the peloton had dragged them back to just over three minutes. With the FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope team of overall leader Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig controlling, the advantage was brought down to around two minutes, where it stayed for almost 40km.
As the info 45km approached Marianne Vos’s Jumbo-Visma team came to the front, gradually chipping the leaders’ advantage away, until, within 25km of the finish other teams came to help, bringing the break back just before entry to the final circuit.
Half way round the first full lap Jeanne Korevaar from the ever-aggressive Liv-Xtra established a small gap, but with so many vested interests a number of teams were happy to chase. One squad that were happy with the Dutch rider up the road was FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope, Korevaar was no threat to the overall.
Koster’s late move on the final stage brought her compatriot back, but DSM had one last throw of the dice, but when the German champion was caught the GC was decided.
Just over two kilometres out BikeExchange-Jayco tried to bridge to Koster who still had the most slender lead, they were joined by Trek-Segafredo, but when Canyon-SRAM towed Vos to the front the stage was won.
Result Tour of Scandinavia, stage six: Lillestrøm - Halden (154.3km)
1. Marianne Vos (Ned) Jumbo-Visma in 4-01-25
2. Shari Bossuyt (Bel) Canyon-SRAM
3. Barbara Guarischi (Ita) Movistar
4. Sofia Bertizzolo (Ita) UAE-ADQ
5. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
6. Nina Kessler (Ned) BikeExchange-Jayco
7. Tamara Dronova (N/A) Roland-Cogeas-Edelweiss
8. Alex Manly (Aus) BikeExchange-Jayco
9. Anouska Koster (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
10. Gladys Verhulst (Fra) Le Col-Wahoo all at same time
Final general classification
1. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope in 20-49-55
2. Liane Lippert (Ger) DSM at 17 sec
3. Alex Manly (Aus) BikeExchange-Jayco at 44 sec
4. Tamara Dronova (N/A) Roland-Cogeas-Edelweiss at 1-00
5. Neve Bradbury (Aus) Canyon-SRAM at same time
6. Julie Van de Velde (Bel) Platur-Pura at 1-03
7. Anouska Koster (Ned) Jumbo-Visma at 1-06
8. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Trek-Segafredo at 1-08
9. Katrine Aalerud (Nor) Movistar all at same time
10. Erica Magnaldi (Ita) UAE-ADQ at 1-09
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