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PROVINS, France (VN) — After Jonas Vingegaard stormed to overall victory at the men’s Tour de France, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig wants to keep the Danish fortunes going at the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift.
Vingegaard became the first Danish winner of the men’s race since Bjarne Riis in 1996, beating Tadej Pogačar by 2:43, during a standout race for the Scandinavian country.
Uttrup Ludwig got her Tour de France Femmes underway on the same day that Vingegaard rolled into Paris to secure his victory. She is targeting the women’s yellow jersey this week and she’s hoping the Danish purple patch will include her.
“100 percent,” Uttrup Ludwig told VeloNews when asked if she took confidence. “The way that the Danish guys have been doing in the Tour, the grand depart in Denmark, just everyone going Denmark crazy and the whole country cheering. It’s very special. I’m just enjoying it.
“I also heard his speech, and I was crying a little bit. I was just thinking and imagining how much it must mean to him and how big of a result that is and proud he should be.”
There were plenty of Danes in town to toast Vingegaard’s victory and they lined the streets for the women’s race. As they did during the grand depart in Denmark, the fans were vociferous in their support.
“It was a once in a lifetime experience, it was incredible. It didn’t really feel like the Champs Elysees, it felt like a Danish street. I felt at home there. It was incredible,” she said.
The path to the Tour de France Femmes has been a challenging one for Uttrup Ludwig. The 26-year-old caught COVID-19 during the spring, which forced her to miss the Ardennes classics and sit out racing until mid-May.
She returned to action with a podium at Durango-Durango and backed that up with a fifth place at the Vuelta a Burgos, before winning the Danish national road race title. In order to build up the racing miles, she rode the Giro d’Italia Donne, where she finished sixth overall.
“I’m feeling good. It hasn’t been the best season for me, because of COVID, fighting back and not doing many races,” Uttrup Ludwig said. “I came back and did the Giro, which was good to get some racing back in the legs and get that racing back. Now, I’m here at the Tour, hopefully the legs are good.”
FDJ-Suez-Futuroscope comes into the Tour with two potential contenders in the GC with Marta Cavalli the other. Cavalli finished second overall to Annemiek van Vleuten at the Giro d’Italia Donne earlier this month.
The team wants to overturn that result from Italy and is planning an aggressive racing strategy to unseat Van Vleuten and the other GC contenders.
“We have a strong team here and it’s going to be good. I’m very positive,” she said. “We want to show how good women’s cycling is and how interesting it is and we want to get it out there. There’ll be a lot of fireworks.”