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by Jeanine Laudy
September 11, 2017
Photography by Cor Vos
WOMEN'S CYCLING BROUGHT TO YOU BY ORBEA
Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) has won the 2017 Women’s WorldTour in dominant fashion. So dominant she didn’t even have to take to the start in the last round, the Madrid Challenge.
It was a race she could afford to miss as the only rider close enough to challenge Van der Breggen’s lead was her closest rival, Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott), who did not start there either.
The Women’s WorldTour win is another impressive result to add to her already lengthy palmares, which include wins in the Olympic and European road races, a double win in the Giro Rosa, the Ardennes triple. It also means back-to-back victories for Boels-Dolmans in the Women’s WorldTour. Last year, Megan Guarnier won the inaugural Women’s WorldTour.
In the young rider classification, the performance of the Cervélo-Bigla rider from Denmark, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, was stunning. After taking the light blue leader’s jersey in round three of the Women’s WorldTour, she never handed it off again, only building her lead further throughout the season.
When Van der Breggen skipped the first two weekends of the 2017 road season, speculation was rife about what was wrong and if she would ever get back to her dominating racing form. Looking back, this speculation looks a little foolish.
Van der Breggen only entered the scene two weeks later than the rest of the peloton, although she wasn’t back in contention for the win straight away. A nasty virus had kept her off the bike until March so it was no wonder it took her some time to get fit again. So while her team celebrated its first Women’s WorldTour victory of the year in the Ronde van Drenthe, with Amalie Dideriksen taking the win, Van der Breggen improved her race shape.
The Dutch rider was fully back when she found herself in the potentially race-winning move in the Tour of Flanders. Team orders dictated that she wasn’t allowed to take turns at the front anymore and the leading quartet she was caught before the finish line, but it was the first time we saw the European and Olympic champion at the front of the race in 2017.
It only got better from there. Van der Breggen almost humiliated the competition in the first proper Ardennes week in women’s cycling, winning all three races by arriving solo at the line.
Three weeks later, Van der Breggen was first awarded the purple Women’s WorldTour leader’s jersey when she won the Amgen women’s Tour of California GC.
The jersey briefly changed shoulders to Kasia Niewiadoma (WM3 Pro Cycling), when the Polish rider on Marianne Vos’ team won the OVO Energy Women’s Tour. However, after Van der Breggen’s strong performance in the Giro Rosa, it was back around her shoulders again.
In the last Women’s WorldTour race that Van der Breggen entered, the six-day Boels Ladies Tour, Van Vleuten, who ended up being her closest rival, was on the start line too. By now, Van Vleuten led the UCI individual ranking and was only 96 points down on Van der Breggen in the Women’s WorldTour ranking. Niewiadoma held second place, 61 points down on Van der Breggen, but as she didn’t play a role in the Boels Ladies Tour GC, it soon became clear that she wasn’t a threat.
Van der Breggen bests Van Vleuten in a two-up sprint.
Van Vleuten won the Boels Ladies Tour along with two stages, but Van der Breggen won a stage too. With the results of both Dutchwomen processed into the Women’s WorldTour rankings, Van der Breggen held onto her lead by 27 points. She will be awarded the prize at the UCI Gala in China at the end of October.
Van der Breggen’s 2017 Women’s WorldTour results
With Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Cervélo-Bigla) at the start of a stage race, its a fairly safe bet she’ll be wearing the (usually white) young rider jersey at some stage of the event and most likely on the final day too. This was no different in the Women’s WorldTour series.
The young rider jersey in the Women’s WorldTour was redesigned into a light blue version and Uttrup Ludwig was awarded the very first one after the Strade Bianche. Not taking to the start in the Ronde van Drenthe, which was won by world champion Dideriksen – who was also in contention for the young rider classification – Uttrup Ludwig had to hand it over to her compatriot. But when Uttrup Ludwig finished on the podium at Trofeo Alfredo Binda, behind Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb) and Arlenis Sierra (Astana), it was quickly on her shoulders again.
“To finish on the podium in a WorldTour race was unbelievable for me and I still don’t think I’ve realised what that means. The team rode so well that day and it’s a moment I will remember for a long time,” Uttrup Ludwig says on the team website, looking back at the 2017 Women’s WorldTour season.
A mini-disaster struck in the next Women’s WorldTour race. Cervélo-Bigla didn’t have any experience having a Women’s WorldTour jersey of any sort in the team, and they hadn’t provided Uttrup Ludwig with a leader’s jersey to wear in Gent-Wevelgem. They’d expected the UCI to provide one, however, they did not. All of a sudden if looked like there was the possibility Uttrup Ludwig’s young rider points would be taken away since she didn’t wear the jersey during a Women’s WorldTour race while leading the classification, which is against the rules of the Women’s WorldTour. It made the win by her teammate Lotta Lepistö bittersweet, the 22-year-old crossing the line with tears in her eyes. Thankfully, the UCI decided to leave it with a warning and allowed Uttrup Ludwig to keep her points and her lead in the young rider classification.
It was another amazing team performance. We suffered as a team. It was such a tough race and I remember I couldn’t stand on my legs after the finish. We were so happy because, in the end, we sacrificed so much to get Lotta to the finish. That was our goal and we all gave 100%. The climbs finished with 40km to go and then there was attack after attack. It was relentless. We had to cover all the attacks. I think we may have been the only team to have 5 riders in the final so that says something about the team performance that day. We fought as a unit and in the end, it felt so great when Lotta won because it felt like a team victory. We knew we just had to get her to the line and she would do the rest.
Throughout the season, Uttrup Ludwig steadily built her lead in the classification, already near unbeatable halfway through the season. Her top-10 finishes in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the OVO Women’s Tour GC were incredible performances, and we expect this rider to be after the overall Women’s WorldTour leader’s jersey in the future too.
Read all about Uttrup Ludwig’s best Women’s WorldTour moments, accompanied by Vélofocus photos, on the Cervélo-Bigla website.
Uttrup Ludwig’s 2017 Women’s WorldTour results
General classification 1. Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) – 1016 2. Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) – 989 3. Kasia Niewiadoma (Wm3 Pro Cycling) – 856 4. Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb) – 703 5. Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High5) – 630
Young rider classification 1. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Cervélo-Bigla) – 52 2. Alice Barnes (Drops Cycling) – 16 3. Amalie Dideriksen (Boels-Dolmans) – 16 4. Lisa Klein (Cervélo-Bigla) – 12 5. Anna Christian (Drops Cycling) – 10
Team classification, 1. Boels-Dolmans – 3273 2. Team Sunweb – 2023 3. Wiggle-High5 – 1824 4. Orica-Scott – 1821 5. Canyon-SRAM – 1505
What was your favourite moment from Anna van der Breggen or Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig in the 2017 Giro Rosa?