In a dramatic twist in the Tour of Scandinavia, Dutch powerhouse Annemiek van Vleuten wrestled the leader’s jersey from Denmark’s Cecile Uttrup Ludwig. As the riders moved from Norway into Denmark for a decisive 16.5-kilometre time trial, the stage was set for a thrilling contest. Grace Brown of FDJ-SUEZ emerged as the stage winner, clocking an unbeatable 20 minutes and 36 seconds, but it was Van Vleuten’s strategic ride that stole the general classification show.
Commencing her time trial cautiously, Van Vleuten initially trailed Ludwig by six seconds at the first checkpoint. However, leveraging her extensive experience, she shifted gears in the latter half, ultimately finishing more than 30 seconds ahead of the Danish rider. The tough uphill finish played into the hands of the riders who could pace accurately today. While the stage win went to Brown, Van Vleuten’s remarkable finish saw her snatch the coveted leader’s jersey. Brown’s ride was imperious and didn’t seriously look like it would be challenged. Brown missed out on the World Championship TT gold by a handful of seconds recently and is the most in-form rider against the clock at the moment.
It was also a time trial that allowed the unheralded rouleurs to shine. The likes of Lauretta Hanson, Maaike Boogaard, Franziska Koch and Zoe Backstedt all finished in the top 10 and got to show off what they can do. Conversely to that, Kim Cadzow pulled out the finest time trial of her young career by finishing 8th. The New Zealander finished 3rd the other day on Norefjell and has backed that up with a strong performance again today.
The victory gains even more significance given that Van Vleuten, at 40, is approaching retirement. With only the Simac Ladies Tour left in her professional calendar, the Tour of Scandinavia has become a swan song of sorts for the Dutch star. She will head into the tour’s final, hilly stage at Haderslev as the race leader, looking to end her penultimate stage race on a high note.
Tour of Scandinavia Stage 4 result
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