Strong showing by Bigla at La Course by Le Tour de France, as Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig takes a podium place
Early on Friday morning Bigla took to the start of La Course of Le Tour de France. This year's 121km long parcours led around Pau over five laps of hilly terrain. Each round featured two climbs, the Côte de Gelos and the Côte d'Esquillot, the last of which came about 11km before the finish line. 500m before completing each round, a 100m long and 17 per cent steep ramp on the Rue Mulot had to be conquered by the riders.
Right from the get-go, a group of 12 riders, including Elise Chabbey and Nikola Nosková escaped and put a minute between them and the peloton. With 45km remaining until the finish, the breakaway was caught, and on the penultimate steep ramp the peloton split into several groups. There was a flurry of attacks and with 30km ahead of the finish, a group of five riders, including Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, broke free from a reduced field, but were brought back shortly afterwards. A soloist then launched an attack, but in the last 10km, Bigla and a few other teams put the hammer down to catch up to her. In the end, Cecilie managed to make it into a small group of chasers that pursued the rider up front. On the last steep ramp, her escape came to an end when Marianne Vos attacked and surged towards the finish line to take the win. Cecilie sprinted away from the remaining riders to take a well-deserved third place. Elise Chabbey was also awarded the prize for the best climber, and so made Bigla’s second appearance on the podium at La Course. The team rode a very solid race today, being in the breakaway and always riding actively at the front of the field. These efforts were ultimately rewarded with the QOM prize and a podium finish.
Cecilie summarised how she felt after the race: "I remember last year I cried because I was overcome by emotions. And today, it was also a good day and I felt good. It was a tough race, but we showed great teamwork. Elise won the mountain classification and we were in the breakaway with two riders. And then I was up there in the finale of the race. I can really say that the Bigla jersey was prominent at the head of the race so many times, and of course it’s nice to finish the race on the podium. Marianne was just too good today, but the team showed that we are getting stronger with every race."
After the race, Team Manager Thomas Campana summarised his team's success: "We've kept the Giro Rosa team completely together, as we usually have good experiences with a week between the two races. The riders finished the Giro in good form and came into this French race very fit and motivated. We had specific tactics and we wanted to win. We were looking for an early break and to be able to cover the moves, and to be in control of the race, and we did this very well. In the end, we had Cecilie in an important move, and she was always present in the last lap, which showed that her form is back. She gained a lot of confidence and finished the day on the podium, which is great. The team throughout the Giro and La Course certainly showed that they are a force to be reckoned with and we also scored a podium with Elise, who deserved that success, as the best climber on the day. So, all in all, it’s been a nice finish to the Giro Rosa and La Course, as the team now gets some well-deserved rest."