Uttrup Ludwig vows to come out swinging in Worlds road race

Danish rider a dark horse for the medals

Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig races with her heart and the young Danish rider says she wants to leave it all out on the road this Saturday in the women's road race at the UCI Road World Championships.

Uttrup Ludwig stood on the podium of the junior women's time trial at Worlds in 2012 in Valkenburg, and was 10th in the elite women's time trial last year in Bergen, but the road race is her main target this season. She has made an impression in the peloton this season for her climbing abilities, and the hilly route in Innsbruck suits her, making her an outside bet for a podium place. 

However, the podium is not her sole target. The 23-year-old would, of course, like a medal but her goal this weekend is to push herself to her limits. Whatever that brings, she will be happy with it.

"My goal for the World Championships is to give it my all and go full-hearted in and then we'll see what we'll get in the end," Uttrup Ludwig told Cyclingnews.

"When I come to the finish line I want to be so exhausted. I don't want to think that I could have given two more per cent. I want to throw up after the finish line and pass out. I want to say that I did everything I could. If you can say that you gave everything you could then you can be happy with the result because you couldn't have done more and somebody was just better on the day. That's my goal."

The design of the women's road race course is something that Uttrup Ludwig feels strongly about and she voiced her opinion on the differences between the men's and women's courses in a blog over the summer. While she was not happy that the route designers had omitted the Höll Climb in the women's event, she still remains excited about the course they do get to race.

"It's a super cool course and for sure it's going to be super hard. It's like a Toblerone. I'm really looking forward to it and I think we'll have some nice bike racing," she said.

"Hopefully in Innsbruck there will be so many spectators. I think it will be a special feeling with so many spectators. I'm really looking forward to it. About the missing hill, it is something I feel strongly about, that we won't get to race it, but now it's too late to change it. It's something that needs more time and that we can hopefully change with patience."

Making mistakes

Uttrup Ludwig has been racing with UCI-registered teams since 2014 but it was only last year that she moved into one of the top-ranked teams, Cervelo-Bigla. She has made some quick progression in her short time with the Danish squad.

Following a difficult spring, she took her third consecutive national time trial title and went on to finish a career-best sixth overall at the Giro Rosa. She took her form to La Course where she set out on a long-range attack before eventually finishing fourth.

Her performances have impressed Cervelo-Bigla and she has extended her contract with the team. There will be plenty more expectations on her young shoulders, not only because of her performances but also the departure of star rider Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio. Uttrup Ludwig is not afraid to take on the pressure and is eager to keep learning.

"There are a lot of things to master, not just to be a leader but to be a good leader. I have the best to teach me that," she told Cyclingnews. "Sometimes you have to learn by doing and by making a lot of mistakes in racing. I think, for me, it is actually really good to make mistakes. Nobody likes to make mistakes but I think that is also the way that we learn the most and develop the most. Success doesn't always teach you the most.

"I like it because I am still young and I have many years in cycling. I'm just getting started really and hopefully I have a long career in front of me and it is nice to make a lot of mistakes and grow from that. I see that as a positive thing."

Uttrup Ludwig has a flamboyant personality and wears her heart on her sleeve. After finishing fourth in La Course, she gave an emotional interview sat in the middle of the road just beyond the finish line. She burst into tears as she described hearing the fans shout her name and then pleaded with people to watch more women's cycling.

"I burn so much for the sport, I love it so much and that's also why it shows that I get so emotional about it. Cycling is my life. It's not the only thing in life but you put your heart in it," she said. "We do put as much energy into it as the men do and we train and we can race our bikes and it's fun and dynamic racing. That's why I sometimes get extra emotional about it. We deserve to get as much attention as the men because our racing is exciting. We're not just amateurs."

Her emotions off the bike also translate into the way she races, with flamboyant attacks. They don't always work out but it's the way she likes to do things.

"We need to make a lot of attacks in a lot of races and one day at some point, you'll make it or the team will make it," she said. "It's so much more fun than sitting in. You also need the confidence and the courage. Even though it is so far from the finish line, you need to have the balls to think 'oh fuck I'm going to do this anyway'. That's how I like racing and that's how I want to race more."

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