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Cavalli not racing to fight against Van Vleuten at Tour de France Femmes

PASSO DEL MANIVA ITALY JULY 07 Marta Cavalli of Italy and Team FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope crosses the finishing line during the 33rd Giro dItalia Donne 2022 Stage 7 a 1129km stage from Prevalle to Passo del Maniva 1743m GiroDonne UCIWWT on July 07 2022 in Passo del Maniva Italy Photo by Dario BelingheriGetty Images
Marta Cavalli of FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope crosses the finish line of stage 7 at Giro d'Italia Donne, in third overall (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The hierarchy at FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope is set to change when the team starts the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift this weekend, with Giro d'Italia Donne runner-up Marta Cavalli stepping into a support role for teammate Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig.

Cavalli may be one of the best-placed riders in the peloton to know how to win against favourite Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar), having beaten her twice in the spring and going head-to-head at the Giro. Her knowledge will be put to use helping Uttrup Ludwig's ambitions on the overall.

"I don't think I'm in the race to be by [Van Vleuten's] side to fight," she said. "Because in the team we will switch roles and Cecilie will be the leader in these occasions. So she will fight against Van Vleuten, and I will be a supporter."

As well as racing the Giro together, Cavalli and Uttrup Ludwig coordinated their calendars earlier in the year with the specific goal of fine-tuning their teamwork ahead of July's big races.

"We started in the spring, to find each other in the races and understand where and when she can help me and when I can help her," Cavalli said. "This year, we've practised more and the Giro was really nice training for this feeling. We have improved a lot. We always had good communication during the race, I always want to know what she needs and where she is to be ready and be a good support.

"It's never easy because when we are full gas it's hard to be one rider, but we will see what will happen in the climbs."

Despite her commitments to Uttrup Ludwig, Cavalli does have one eye on the back-to-back climbing days at the end of the eight-day stage race where she hopes to still be there in the final.

"It could be that I can ride for a stage win more in the end of the Tour," she said. "I wish to myself to be ready, if I have a good occasion to be in the front in some finals. I'm really looking at stage 7 and 8 because they are so hard. We did the recon two months ago, I know the climbs. I really like the course and I hope to be able to fight for something good."

Though stage 8's Planche des Belles Filles finale has been billed as the race's landmark climb, Cavalli said stage 7's 3,000 metres of elevation could be harder, and the GC could be shaped well before the final day.

"I don't think all the riders want to wait until the last day to make the real fight," she said. "The fight will happen I think between stages 4 and 6 and 7. On the last day for the GC, the games could be already done.

"A rider like Annemiek doesn't want to wait too long. Normally on the first occasion, she will attack and she wants to make a difference from the beginning. I'm not sure about stage 1 and 2, but already in stage 3 something can happen, and also the next stage with the gravel. It's full of dangerous points, this Tour.

"We have to keep good spirits day by day and see what happens in each stage, and be ready to react immediately if something changes or if the tactic from other teams is different from what we expect."

Though the Tour is perhaps the biggest race on the calendar, Cavalli says the lack of leadership responsibility and a successful Giro have lightened the pressure heading into Sunday's start.

"[The Giro was hard] because I had all the team on my shoulders, and the final result depended only on me. I was in my country, in front of my family," she said. 

"But now, I have more confidence from the Giro. I know I'm in quite a good shape, and I will fly to Paris tomorrow without too much stress."

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Matilda Price is a freelance cycling journalist and digital producer based in the UK. She is a graduate of modern languages, and recently completed an MA in sports journalism, during which she wrote her dissertation on the lives of young cyclists. Matilda began covering cycling in 2016 whilst still at university, working mainly in the British domestic scene at first. Since then, she has covered everything from the Tour Series to the Tour de France. These days, Matilda focuses most of her attention on the women’s sport, writing for Cyclingnews and working on women’s cycling show The Bunnyhop. As well as the Women’s WorldTour, Matilda loves following cyclo-cross and is a recent convert to downhill mountain biking.