There was no question that stage 2 of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift was an incredibly tough one for FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope, losing powerful Italian Marta Cavalli to an awful crash while GC hope Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig lost time due to another incident. Nevertheless the French team is far from ready to abandon its high hopes for the race.
“The Women’s Tour de France is far from lost for FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope, but this day reminds us how dangerous our sport can be,” said the team in a statement put out late Monday. “We will fight relentlessly on all the next stages of this Tour to play a leading role in the general classification. We will fight for Marta.”
Cavalli was a valuable asset in the team’s pursuit of yellow, opening up the possibility of a powerful two-pronged attack alongside Uttrup-Ludwig to try and counter the strength of race favourite Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar), who Cavalli came second to at the Giro d’Italia Donne.
The Italian rider, however, was forced to abandon the race on stage 2 after being hit hard from behind amid the chaos of a crash. The team said initial examinations showed that Cavalli suffered a head and lower body trauma and a further examination at hospital had not indicated any further injuries or fractures.
Cavalli was far from the only FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope rider to come off on Tuesday, with Grace Brown and Utrrup Ludwig also hitting the deck in an incident shortly afterwards while Evita Muzic came down closer to the line. Cavalli's teammates could all continue on.
‘There are no serious injuries to declare regarding Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, Evita Muzic and Grace Brown,” said the team.
However, the crash involving Uttrup Ludwig and Brown at 22km to go in the 136km stage to Provins took another type of toll.
Uttrup Ludwig and three teammates – Grace Brown, Vittoria Guazzini and Marie Le Net – were still trying to rejoin the peloton after the crash when more pressure was put on the already tough pace when Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo) took advantage of a moment of hesitation after the intermediate sprint to attack at around 20km to go. The world champion dragged away a small group including her teammate, Elisa Longo Borghini as well as soon to be stage winner and overall leader Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma).
“That was a hard day in the office for sure,” said Brown in an interview with Australian broadcaster SBS (opens in new tab). “Almost the whole team were involved in that crash at about 20km to go and we had to wait up and try and help Cecilie back to the peloton, but with the crosswinds and everything it was almost an impossible task, so she finished a bit down today.”
Uttrup Ludwig came over the line 1:38 behind Vos, putting her 1:54 back on the race leader and 1:42 behind the best-placed of the overall contenders, Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM).
“There are mountains to come so hopefully we can make up on that,“ added Brown.
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Simone joined the team as Production Editor based in Australia at the start of the 2021 season, having previously worked as Australian Editor at Ella CyclingTips and as a correspondent for Reuters and Bloomberg.