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Gallery: Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig shows the power of dogged determination in emotional win

In-depth
26 Jul 2022
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The Tour de France Femmes never stops giving. Having barely caught our breath from a crazy second day, Stage 3 delivered drama and more with Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig punching her way to an impressive win.

With a slightly lumpier profile compared to the first two stages, including a tough, uphill final kilometre into Épernay where Julian Alaphilippe took yellow in 2019, the third stage was always going to explode.

Due to the limited opportunities that eight days of racing brings for stage victories and GC fights, the inaugural Tour de Frances Femmes is nothing short of full-gas with non-stop action from the jump. After Stage 2 saw big favourites caught in the crashes and crosswinds, that all-or-nothing mentality is only heightened.

The race was altogether when the race hit the start of the day's cluster of climbing with around 54km to go, going over the category four lump as one before Canyon-SRAM's Elise Chabbey and Parkhotel-Valkenburg's Femke Gerritse attacked over the top.

Audrey Cordon-Ragot joined them for a few kilometres but they were swiftly pulled back, with exposed roads causing crosswind nerves to add to everything else.

Chabbey and Gerritse went again on the next climb to fight for the QOM points, with the latter's efforts successful in taking over the polka dot jersey from her teammate Femke Markus.

Several riders went up the road solo but nothing stuck, the bunch coming to the Cat 3 Côte de Mutigny together with just over 16km to go.

SD Worx – among Stage 2's biggest losers in the splits – putter the hammer down on the climb with Ashleigh Moolman Pasio dropping riders including the yellow jersey Marianne Vos, the big favourite Annemiek van Vleuten, FDJ-Suez-Futuroscope's Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig and third overall Kasia Niewiadoma.

Moolman Pasio's teammate Demi Vollering put in a huge effort over the top but slid out on a sharp bend, with Trek-Segafredo's Elisa Longo Borghini putting on the pressure as she flew past the incident.

The resulting split from Vollering's crash meant that those dropped on the climb found themselves in a larger group to fight back onto the front of the race.

After catching the front five, what was now a group of 11 began looking at each other 6.7km out, before the attacks began.

Just 4km from the finish riders went over the bonus QOM, where Longo Borghini took some precious seconds ahead of Niewiadoma and Moolman Pasio and Van Vleuten – who later reported she's been suffering with illness – was shot out the back.

They were all back together coming into the final climb though and it was Niewiadoma who led it out with 300m to go. Yellow jersey Vos looked to be in control as she came round with Moolman Pasio but flying from behind was FDJ's Danish national champion Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig who, along with her team, suffered badly on Stage 2.

It wasn't close. Uttrup Ludwig showed enormous drive to put several bike lengths into the rest of the pack and take the biggest win of her career.

Cycling Images Russ Ellis was on hand to capture the highlights from an incredible day's racing:

Couldn't be more French if you put a beret on it.

Stage 3 saw riders head through Champagne country.

And only the very best bike racing happens here. But Italians are allowed. Elisa Balsamo is vintage.

I can't vouch for the quality of campervans though.

Though I won't knock it, that's how you follow a bike race. My only question is where on earth is the guy in the reflection? Is he a ghost? It's certainly not our photographer.

Bubbles and polka dots. Aren't we lucky?

Farmland does mean a lot of exposed roads, however there was some respite. Oh hello again Elisa.

Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig is a true fighter.

This victory is so well deserved too. And huge props to FDJ for doing a national champs jersey properly.

Now with added background.

It takes serious power to hurt Marianne Vos that much. But how good does she look in yellow.

It was a huge day for everyone at FDJ-Suez-Futuroscope after four crashes and the loss of Marta Cavalli from the race on Monday.

The whole team came out to celebrate at the podium.

It didn't go unnoticed.


For all our Tour de France Femmes content, visit our hub page.