TOUR DE FRANCE FEMMES 2022 | STAGE 3 | REIMS > ÉPERNAY
ÉPERNAY, France (July 26, 2022) — On the day after a terrible stage 2 for FDJ-Suez-Futuroscope, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig claimed a spectacular victory in Épernay. The Danish National champion was the fastest on the final uphill of the day to take victory in front of Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) and Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (SD Worx) after an eventful finale. Vos retains the Maillot Jaune while the gaps open on the overall standings, with only seven riders within a minute of the GC leader.
On the day after an explosive finale around Provins and with many hills on the way to Épernay, baroudeurs are inspired from the start. Attacks are flying non-stop at the front, which prevents any group from opening significant gaps in the early parts of the stage.
The peloton fly towards the first categorised ascent of the day, the cat-4 Côte de Trépail (km 21.6). At the summit, Femke Gerritse (Parkhotel Valkenburg) adds 2 QOM points to her tally (she was already a joint-leader with her teammate Femke Markus, wearing the polka-dot jersey due to a better position on the overall standings). Elise Chabbey (Canyon//Sram) is 2nd over the top.
After the summit, Pauline Allin (Arkéa) goes for her second breakaway of the Tour, after a previous attempt on the Champs-Élysées. Femke Markus joins her at km 40. More riders try to bridge the gap but the peloton, wary of the wind, cover every move.
Unable to open a significant gap, the attacking duo are caught with 74km to go. The situation then settles towards the final ascents of the day.
Gerritse dominates again the cat-4 climbs of Vertus (km 78.9) and Mesnil-sur-Oger (km 88.1), each time ahead of Chabbey. She all but secures the polka-dot jersey at the end of the day.
Femke Gerritse: “I stole the jersey from my teammate, and we have also the same name! She didn’t have a good day, and I had a good day, so I went for the sprints. For sure, we wanted to keep the jersey in the team because yesterday we had the same total of points and we hoped that one of us could go in the break. But that was not possible. Fortunately, I had good legs for the sprints on the mountains against Elise Chabbey. It was really cool. Two or three times, we had a gap and we tried to go. We were just saying to each other ‘hey, here we go!’ I was really happy after the first three sprints. So I went really slow on the côte de Mutigny because I knew I had enough points. We will defend the jersey tomorrow.”
Amialiusik accelerates after the climb and sets off alone at the front. Many riders try to counter-attack, but none succeeds to join her. She has a lead of 1’ against the bunch as she enters the last 30km.
The peloton accelerate and the gap is down to 30’’ as they cross the finish line for the first time, with 24km to go. They face an explosive final lap, with the Côte de Mutigny, where Julian Alaphilippe powered to the stage win and the Maillot Jaune on the same roads in 2019.
Amialiusik is caught at the bottom of the climb. Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) sets the early pace, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (SD Worx) accelerates and then her teammate Demi Vollering powers to the summit. Only seven riders remain at the front: Van Vleuten, Moolman Pasio, Vollering, Lippert, Persico, Garcia, Longo Borghini.
The Maillot Jaune Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) is chasing 15’’ behind them, with Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ-Suez-Futuroscope) and Juliette Labous (Team DSM).
The situation is turned upside down again when Vollering misses a turn and Lippert goes down with her. Eventually, 11 riders get back together ahead of the final ascent of the day: Vollering, Faulkner, Ludwig, Niewiadoma, Labous, Persico, Moolman-Pasio, Van Vleuten, Longo Borghini and Garcia.
Van Vleuten can’t keep up when Longo Borghini accelerates on the slopes of Mont Bernon to take 3 bonus seconds over the top. She eventually gets back for the last kilometre, with the final uphill sections to battle it out.
Niewiadoma, Moolman-Pasio and Vos anticipate… And Ludwig flies past them right at the end to take revenge after a crash-marred stage 2 for her team on Monday.
Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig: “I felt I was in a good spot following Marianne [Vos]’s wheel under flamme rouge, but then I lost position a bit and I was: ‘sh…' And Kasia [Niewiadoma] was already attacking. I just kept on fighting, thinking ‘I can come back, at least the podium!’ And then: ‘it’s looking pretty good…' It’s amazing. Yesterday was such a gloomy, sad, sh… day. To keep fighting with the team like this is something I’ll remember for the rest of my life I think. We’re not quitters! During the race, the girls came to me to tell me: ‘We believe in you! We’re here for you!’ And then they were standing in front of me when I was on the podium. I was just crying, crying, crying. And them too. It was so special. I’m a stage winner of the Tour de France! That’s a good line on my resume. And we’re gonna celebrate tonight, I promise you. Marta [Cavalli] will be with us in the hotel and we’ll be able to have a glass of champagne and also tell her: ‘We did it for you'.”
Marianne Vos: “We knew it was going to be tough, we knew it would be a fight to stay in contention and to try to go for the stage and also to keep the yellow jersey. Of course, I’m happy to keep the yellow and I think Cecilie [Uttrup Ludwig] was definitely the strongest there on the final climb. Was I close to another victory ? Not really. I gave it all and in the end I didn’t have the legs to accelerate once again and Cecilie did. 2nd it was. After such a hard race, I’m happy to stay in yellow another day. It was really special in the bunch, with the people along the route spotting this iconic jersey. Tomorrow is another hard stage with the ‘chemins blancs’ [white roads] but also the climbs before. There are no easy days in the Tour de France!”