After a difficult start to the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope have certainly turned their luck around at their home race. On a stage that saw many lose time through misfortune, the team put a plan in action to ensure Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig held firm while still claiming second on the stage with a well-timed attack from Évita Muzic.
Less than 24 hours after an emotional win on stage 3, Uttrup Ludwig was one of the first overall hopes to be held up on stage 4, suffering a puncture on the third sector, but her team were immediately at her side.
“When I had the puncture on gravel section three, Vittoria [Guazzini] and Marie [Le Net] they were just so quick at spotting it, stopping with me, changing the wheel, and Marie getting me back in,” she said. “I mean how good? It’s like writing a book, a good book!”
After losing Marta Cavalli and four riders going down on a crash-filled stage 2, FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope have picked themselves up to not just win, but band together after a “dark day” that “really connected” the riders.
“It’s just amazing,” Uttrup Ludwig said of the team’s turnaround. “This team has been such a unit. I think it’s so amazing, after stage 2 where we almost just wanted to go home, or at least forget the day. But then we bounced back yesterday, and today also Évita getting second. It’s quite amazing.”
Muzic, who finished second on the stage after a late attack in the final 10km, was delighted to be on the podium of her home race, another good result for the team.
“I’m really happy to take this podium for the team after the win yesterday and also after our dark day on the second stage,” she said. “Now we are ready to fight in every stage, and it’s not finished, we have four stages to go and also the GC for Cille.”
Though Muzic is at the Tour on domestique duties for Uttrup Ludwig, she admitted she would “like to do the same as her” and win a stage, but also took a lot of joy from finishing on the podium in Bar-sur-Aube.
“It was hard,” she said of the stage. “I didn’t know if we could go to the finish line, and I wanted to try on the sprint. I just kept going so I’m really happy. I had a hard winter with surgery, so that was hard work but it paid off.”
Before she herself attacked, Muzic had been working for Uttrup Ludwig as part of a huge day for the French squad.
“When I came to what I thought was the front group, it was actually split into two groups,” the Danish rider explained. “Then Évita was there and she was just saying ‘get on my wheel Cille!’ and we were turning to get back. It was the whole team, just so good. It’s an amazing team performance and I’m just so proud of how we work together, how we bounce back, and how we fight every single day.”
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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.