How Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig feels about leading the UCI WorldTour
Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig has enjoyed an incredible start to the year, one that even surprised herself. In her first WorldTour race, Strade Bianche, she assumed the lead in the Women’s WorldTour youth classification and has increased her lead since.
She didn’t have to wait long for her first victory of the season, winning the overall in Setmana Ciclista Valenciana. As is a testament to how she’s fitted into the team structure which is centred around unity, she hesitates to take all the glory and rather calls it a team win. “It’s a race I will remember for a long time. I was moved by how we worked together as a team. I know it’s something I repeat a lot but racing as a team like that was something I haven’t seen much of in women’s cycling. To have the strength of the whole team where everyone contributed and were all there was amazing. I felt it wasn’t my win, it was a team victory.”
In the days following Valenciana, Uttrup Ludwig had another opportunity to prove herself in the WorldTour, this time in Trofeo Alfredo Binda. Again she was taken by surprise when she finished third, her first podium at the highest level of the sport. She calls that moment along with helping Lotta Lepistö win Gent Wevelgem, her two highlights of the season so far.
The Danish time trial champion has found the support from home encouraging. Her family and friends are very proud of the steps she’s taken with the Cervélo Bigla Pro Cycling Team. One of the things she’s enjoying is the support from her local club. She was recently invited to give a talk at the club and was surprised by the turnout. She also learnt that many were eagerly following every race. “They text me and when I get home they’re so informed on where I’ve been. It means a lot to have that support.”
Uttrup Ludwig signed for the team off the back of some promising results. She says one of the reasons she chose this team was for a hunger to develop and knew the environment was built around rider development. “I expected my first year on the team where I can learn a lot from Ashleigh [Moolman-Pasio], Lotta and Thomas [Campana] and try to help as much as I could and be there when they need my help. I knew my time to shine would come later because right now I am really young and I need more experience and I expected a learning year. To already have the opportunity to win a race, I didn’t expect it to come that soon. I am pleased that it happened so quickly.”
She’s stepped on the podium seven times as leader of the WorldTour youth classification. Has she gotten used to it? “Every time is special because every time I can keep the jersey is very special. I’m up against some really strong riders and it’s an honour to lead the competition. Every time I can keep the jersey for the next race I am extremely proud.”
Off the bike, Uttrup Ludwig is one of the riders who has everyone in stitches at the dinner table. She feels very comfortable being the centre of attention and always finds something to make fun of. “I’ve been like that since I was a little girl and I think it comes from the family. We joke a lot at home. It’s something I learnt from home but in general, it’s my nature. When I was in primary school I was always the funny girl in the class. I’ve always been like that. It got me into trouble sometimes. When I was little I didn’t know when to make fine. I’m learning that in some situations it’s not right to make fun and I didn’t know that as a kid.”
The next stop in the Women’s WorldTour will be in the UK. The OVO Energy Women’s Tour takes place from 7 – 11 June.