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.
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.
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