Liane Lippert (Team DSM) made the decisive attack on the queen stage of the Tour of Scandinavia, finishing atop the Norefjell after an 11-kilometre climb. Only Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope) could follow the German champion when she made her move.
“I felt really good, so I asked Esmée [Peperkamp] to push the pace and she did a great job. I was waiting for the steep part, countered there and was clear with Cecilie. She was up on GC, so I put the pressure on her and focused on the stage, but unfortunately she was just stronger in the sprint," summed up Lippert about her day.
"On one hand I’m a bit disappointed not to win the sprint because this stage was a big goal, but we also gave everything and I’m really happy to take second on a day like this behind one of the best climbers in the peloton.”
With the victory, Uttrup Ludwig goes into the final stage with a 17-second lead on Lippert, while Alexandra Manly (Team BikeExchange-Jayco) is third overall at 44 seconds.
Neve Bradbury (Canyon-SRAM) was the rider on whom Lippert counterattacked. The 20-year-old Australian had her teammate, white jersey Shari Bossuyt, set the pace on the middle part of the climb to whittle down the group, and dropping yellow jersey Marianne Vos (Team Jumbo-Visma).
On the steepest part of the climb, Bradbury made her move but could not follow when Lippert and Uttrup Ludwig went away. Caught by a larger group, Bradbury finished 10th on the stage, moving up to sixth overall and into the white U23 jersey.
“I started it, and then I paid for it pretty soon afterwards. I didn’t enjoy the climb that much; I was just suffering most of the time. It was hard, but it’s nice to have this jersey now,” she said.
Stage 4 winner Alexandra Manly (Team BikeExchange-Jayco) knew that the Norefjell finish would be challenging. Instead of trying to follow the best climber, she rode her own pace to finish fifth and defend her podium spot, 11 seconds ahead of Julie Van de Velde (Plantur-Pura).
“The finish was so hard, the last climb was just getting everything out to try to stay with the front group, just focusing on the breathing. The girls did a really good lead-out into the climb for me and Georgia, I’m really thankful to them, and now I’m sitting third in GC, so we’re happy with today,” said Manly.
Norwegian climber Katrine Aalerud started the Tour of Scandinavia with the bib number 1 as her Movistar teammate Annemiek van Vleuten had won the 2021 Ladies Tour of Norway. Aalerud had hoped to make her mark on the climb but could not challenge Uttrup Ludwig for the win, finishing 11th on the stage. She is now in seventh place overall as the best Norwegian rider.
“I felt good, but of course it’s not easy to come back after a period without races. I am a bit disappointed that I couldn’t fight with Cecilie, I had hoped for more, but for me it’s big just to be back and try to race with the best. I could feel that I still miss that last little bit compared to the best. My goal today was to get onto the climb at the front, the fight for position is very hard for me, so I am happy I managed that. My team supported me very well,” said Aalerud.
The Tour of Scandinavia ends on Sunday with a stage from Lillestrøm to the race’s home in Halden, finishing with three-and-a-half laps of a technical circuit.
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Lukas Knöfler started working in cycling communications in 2013 and has seen the inside of the scene from many angles. Having worked as press officer for teams and races and written for several online and print publications, he has been Cyclingnews’ Women’s WorldTour correspondent since 2018.