The queen stage of the Tour of Scandinavia saw Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig take control of the race that start in her home country on Tuesday. She took the stage victory and moved into the overall leader’s jersey at the finish in Norefjell today. Only Liane Lippert was able to climb as well as Uttrup Ludwig but she had given everything to get there and wasn’t able to match the Dane in the final sprint. Earlier in the day, SD Worx confirmed they had been wiped out by the crash late on yesterday’s stage – all of Demi Vollering, Niamh Fisher-Black and Anna Shackley didn’t start. With only Fisher-Black confirmed with an injury, a fractured collar bone.
The stage started with an early attack by Esmée Peperkamp which was brought back before the TV started. More moves tried to go but it was Sophie Wright of UAE Team ADQ who got a substantial gap of 2 and a half minutes at its most. Behind her, Valerie Demey did her best to bridge with the gap already established but ultimately Demey and then Wright were gathered back up by the peloton before the base of the climb. 11 kilometres long at an average of 6.1%, Norefjell is one of the toughest climbing tests in the current women’s calendar.
Movistar set the peloton alight heading into the climb, a full train initially led by Sarah Gigante was set to put Katrine Aalerud into a solid position from the off. A bad crash at 12km to go claimed Mie Bjorndal Ottestad. Another rider fell and Ottestad fell badly against a roadside barrier. She was taken to hospital where her injuries aren’t known at this point.
Heading into today’s stage, there was some hope that maybe Marianne Vos could roll back the years and take an overall victory here. Ultimately she was unable to keep up on the climb, with a possible gear issue dropping her out of the group at the wrong time. It’s unlikely it would’ve changed too much, however. Canyon SRAM kept the pace high, with Shari Bossuyt putting in a huge turn in the white youth jersey. Showing a climbing level we haven’t seen so far in her young career. That set up an attack by her teammate Neve Bradbury on the steep section. However, that move merely set up Uttrup Ludwig and Lippert to get away. Despite the attention of Anouska Koster, she couldn’t go with them.
“The team drove so well today. We were always in the front ranks of the pack with the whole team. I really have to thank my teammates, they have continuously protected me. Emilia [Fahlin] and Stine [Borgli] rode a very good pace on the climb. It was clear that they believed in me,”Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig
Heading into the last 1km, Lippert was positioned ideally behind Uttrup Ludwig, forcing the Dane to open up the sprint first. But ultimately Lippert had less in the tank and wasn’t able to make a dent in the finish. Behind them, Julie van de Velde was 3rd for Plantur-Pura, her first Women’s WorldTour podium result. Josie Nelson of Team Coop-Hitec Products was 4th, comfortably her best WWT result and a proper breakthrough one at that.
Main photo credit: Kenneth Asbjørnsen / Eventfotografene