Putting the hammer down: Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig's Danish national champion-edition bike

Cecilie Uttrup-Ludwigs custom danish national champions bike
(Image credit: FDJ-SUEZ)

Being a pro means you get all the fancy kit, but there are levels to it. If you're a national champion like Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, you tend to get treated to a custom paint job to match your jersey for the season as it's a great way for team sponsors to show off their goods.

Being a national champion makes you a member of a very select group, but the Danish star is also a member of a smaller cohort: Those who've beaten Marianne Vos in an uphill sprint.

While Ludwig was national champion last season, and also had a matching red Lapierre Xelius SL, for the 2023 season her bike has seen a significant upgrade to its visual package. Lightening bolts, sword motifs, and the hammer of Thor himself, presumably that Ludwig can try to drop on her rivals at the pointy end of races. 

What is Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig's bike?

Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig rides a Lapierre Xelius SL, the French brand's nominally climbing bike, though she seems to opt for it over the more aero Aircode model throughout the season, regardless of the terrain. It's a novel frame design compared to others in that the seatstays insert into the top tube rather than the seat tube. Lapierre claims this adds greater comfort, effectively making a longer flex zone on the seat tube.

FDJ-Suez are running a Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 setup, with matching wheels. The finishing kit is a mix of proprietary Lapierre and Prologo. The full specs sheet will give you the headlines, but we can dig out some interesting details beyond that. 

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Cecilie Uttrup-Ludwig's Lapierre Xelius SL: Specifications
FrameLapierre Xelius SL
GroupsetShimano Dura-Ace Di2 9250 12-speed
BrakesShimano Dura-Ace 9270 hydraulic disc
WheelsetShimano Dura-Ace C50 Tubeless
TyresContinental GP5000 S TR
CockpitLapierre Combo 110mm x 380mm
ChainsetShimano Dura ace FC-9200P - 54/40T - 170MM
Power meterShimano Dura ace FC-9200P
PedalsShimano Dura-Ace R9200
SaddlePrologo Dimension I 43
Bottle cagesElite Vico Carbon
Bar tapePrologo Onetouch Neutro
Computer MountK-Edge

Let's not beat around the bush here, the main event is the incredible paintwork. A black to candy red fade as a base is always a strong start, but then on top of that has been airbrushed electric blue fringed white lightning bolts. It evokes the national flag of Denmark, without being explicit or dull. It's certainly one of the more striking custom paint jobs out there this season, especially when you compare it to Remco Evenepoel's bike, which, for a current world champion, is super subtle. 

Transmitting Ludwig's watts into forward motion is a Dura-Ace crankset, with 52/38t chainrings and dual-sided power measurement. The Dura-Ace C50 wheels round out a complete groupset and are set up tubeless with Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR tyres. 

While we can't make out the tyre markings it appears Ludwig is opting for 28mm tyres rather than the semi-standard 25mm. There's room in the frame and forks to go wider though, for races like Strada Bianche, where Ludwig has already racked up a 5th place in 2022

Up front, the Dura-Ace hoods are mounted to a one-piece bar and stem. This is where things get a little curious. The 'team issue' Lapierre Xelius SL is sold with a separate bar and stem, with only the 75th-anniversary edition coming with an integrated cockpit. So far, not a huge shock. What's curious is that the Lapierre Combo bar/stem is only available in 400mm widths and above, even for the smallest frame sizes. The product sticker on the underside of the stem is just about readable though; 110mm length, 380mm width. It seems Ludwig is on a bar that's narrower than is commercially available, at least without special request.

The bars themselves are wrapped in Prologo Onetouch Neutro bar tape, matching the Prologo Dimension I 43 saddle perched atop the inline seatpost. The combo of the saddle slammed forward and the seatpost having 0mm offset is what allows Ludwig to get further over the front of the bike and use a longer stem that would otherwise be standard for a frame of this size. It's not quite the 140mm that we see on Michael Matthews' bike, but it's an equivalent setup taking into account the overall package. A single, extremely thin spacer is all that stands between Ludwig's stem and the frame, allowing her to get into the most aerodynamic position possible. Smaller riders are constrained somewhat compared to taller ones insofar as the front wheel effectively acts as a lower limit to how low the front end of the bike can be.

The finishing detail from a hardware perspective is a K-Edge computer mount. Besides that, there are also a couple of other Danish nods: A Danish cross nestled at the rear of the top tube, tapering into a point that is reminiscent of a Viking sword, and Thor's Hammer, Mjolnir, bringing the thunder at the front end of the top tube. 

Cecilie Uttrup-Ludwigs custom danish national champions bike

As custom paint jobs go, we think it may be the best one we've seen for the 2023 season (Image credit: FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope)

Cecile Uttrup-Ludwigs custom danish national champions bike

The Danish flag made to resemble a Viking sword, channelling lightening (Image credit: FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope)

Cecile Uttrup-Ludwigs custom danish national champions bike

There's a reference to Thor's mythical hammer, Mjolnir, up front too (Image credit: FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope)

Cecile Uttrup-Ludwigs custom danish national champions bike

We can't be certain, but we think Ludwig is running 28mm tyres here (Image credit: FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope)

Cecile Uttrup-Ludwigs custom danish national champions bike

The short head tube and minimal spacer stack helps Ludwig get low and aero, aided by a one-piece bar/stem combo (Image credit: FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope)

Cecile Uttrup-Ludwigs custom danish national champions bike

The headtube isn't as sculpted as on some bikes, but its definitely shaped to improve the airflow, as it's one of the main leading edges (Image credit: FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope)

Cecile Uttrup-Ludwigs custom danish national champions bike

A 110mm stem isn't uncommon in the women's peloton, but its definitely longer than is stock for a frame of this size (Image credit: FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope)

Cecile Uttrup-Ludwigs custom danish national champions bike

The Lapierre Xelius SL seat stays insert at the top tube, making them longer and apparently more able to aid comfort and vibration damping that way (Image credit: FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope)

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Will Jones
Reviews Writer, Cyclingnews

Will joined the Cyclingnews team as a reviews writer in 2022, having previously written for Cyclist, BikeRadar and Advntr. There are very few types of cycling he's not dabbled in, and he has a particular affection for older bikes and long lasting components. Road riding was his first love, before graduating to racing CX in Yorkshire. He's been touring on a vintage tandem all the way through to fixed gear gravel riding and MTB too. When he's not out riding one of his many bikes he can usually be found in the garage making his own frames and components as a part time framebuilder, restoring old mountain bikes, or walking his collie in the Lake District.

Height: 182cm

Weight: 72Kg

Rides: Custom Zetland Audax, Bowman Palace:R, Peugeot Grand Tourisme Tandem, 1988 Specialized Rockhopper, Stooge Mk4, Falcon Explorer Tracklocross