21-year-old Ludwig on the podium on Strade Bianche
The Danish time trial champ takes the lead in the UCI Women's WorldTour Youth competition
Strade Bianche turned out to be a fantastic day for Cervélo Bigla Pro Cycling Team with Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig winning the young rider classification. The 21-year-old completed the race ninth overall, rolling across the line a minute behind race winner Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5).
The 127km race was the opening of the 2017 UCI Women’s WorldTour and the first participation ever for Ludwig.
"It went really well," an emotional Ludwig said after climbing down from the podium. "I am so happy, it’s so overwhelming. I can’t really find the words because this is such a big step in my career, I’m really overwhelmed."
After several breakaways on the white Tuscan roads, the most dangerous move took place in the finale with 5 riders including Longo Borghini getting away. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio tried to bridge to the move with two others and came within 10 seconds. Without much collaboration from her breakaway partners and her hip hindering her, Moolman-Pasio waited for the chasing group and empowered Ludwig to get a result for the team.
"Ash was in the middle group and we got back to her and I went all in for her and just kept pushing and pushing. With 6km to go, she wasn’t feeling good in her hips and told me to go for myself. We were really good together out there and communicated really well. The team rides together as a unit and I am so happy to be in this team because I have learnt so much in this professional environment after just 3 races," Ludwig said.
Following a hip fracture last October, the race was a return to the highest level for Moolman-Pasio. With her attempt to get across to what was to become the winning move, she said, "My hip just locked up so the race was maybe a little too hard, it was the first real test and this is a hard race but I am still ahead of where anyone thought I’d be so I am happy."
Discussing the finale in more detail, the South African time trial champion said, "We had a really good race. I did my best to keep the girls calm because Strade Bianche is a stressful race. Only Clara [Koppenburg] and I have done the race before so for the rest of the team, it was their first time doing the race. It’s a young team and needed some encouragement during the race and they really did a great race and every one of them gave everything they could. Cecilie took that next step in her career. Towards the end, she was stressed and worked for me but I told her I’m not good for the final and asked her to do the best she could. It was a lot of pressure for her to take on all of a sudden but she showed she has the big match mentality so we are proud of her."