Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) is on a quest to win her first top-tier women's race, and that target could become a reality at Strade Bianche, the first round of the UCI Women's WorldTour, held on Saturday in Tuscany.
The 136-kilometre women's race is iconic for it's eight white gravel road sectors and steep climbs, and Uttrup Ludwig is one of the key favourites to win the race.
She says that winning is not about luck, but rather skill, when it comes to a race as challenging as Strade Bianche.
"Everyone comes here with high expectations because it’s such a special and unique race. We always as a team want to do well, and I also always want to have a kick ass and fun day on the bike," said Uttrup Ludwig.
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The women's race will start at 9:10am CET and include a total of 31.4 kilometres of gravel across eight sectors before finishing on the steep ascent at the Piazza del Campo in Siena. Uttrup Ludwig has placed in the top-10 on four occasions; 9th in 2017, 10th in 2018, 5th in 2019, and 7th in last year's August edition.
"The finish is so spectacular and hard. You never win Strade by luck, you win it by pure skill," she said. "Strade is one of the only races with gravel for women, so it’s really special for us. And it’s Tuscany, so what's not to love."
FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope have a strong line-up this year, particularly with Brodie Chapman, along with Stine Borgli, Marta Cavalli, Emilia Fahlin and Evita Muzic.
"The team's goals are all-in for success at Strade Bianche tomorrow: 'all in to win!'" said Chapman. "We brought the strongest team possible to use all our options and we plan to race smart to give ourselves the best chances. It’s good luck to have an Italian on your team at this race - Marta Cavalli - she had a great result last weekend [at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad] and is a fantastic addition to the team this year."
FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope have spent the last few days in Siena, previewing the gravel sectors that make up the hardest part of Strade Bianche. The race has typically split apart over the gravel and steep climbs, where winning moves have been made by Megan Guarnier, Lizzie Deignan, Elisa Longo Borghini, Anna van der Breggen and twice by Annemiek van Vleuten.
"We did the recon yesterday. Everyone says it but it’s just so beautiful. The landscape and the location give us energy to race," Chapman said.
"For sure it’s always important to be in position for the longest sector of gravel, we’ve seen the race split to pieces here before. But this race isn’t over until the finish line so we all need to remember always to keep fighting."
Reco'#StradeBianche #UCIWWT#RideAndShine pic.twitter.com/s0YG2S3aoRMarch 4, 2021
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