Teams & Riders Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig is the first - and only - Cille

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Well, this is the point. I wouldn't say that it's her amplifying her act, because the La Course/Vlaanderen Cille wasn't an act. She references that in the interview Greg linked:

“Maybe sometimes I get the feeling that they would love me to go crazy this one time. I’m not an act, I’m not putting on a show,” she says. “I am that way because that is me in that moment, that is me when I’m super happy. I think people, in time, they will also see when I don’t do well, I will not give a crazy interview.”

This is the point. I am wary that some people might come to expect that level of craziness all the time, and be disappointed if Cille doesn't act up to that level, but at the same time I am pleased that she is self-aware enough to know that. You can see that in the Flèche Wallonne interview when she bursts out laughing self-referentially referring to terms that have become thought of like catchphrases for her. And as you can see from things like the Rouleur interview and the quiz with Ned Boulting, and from various other clips dating back years, she's still energetic, engaging and charismatic when she isn't being crazy.


The other reassuring thing about the self-awareness is that it means it's much less likely that she will stop being genuine, which beyond anything else is what made her so entertaining in the first place. If that interview at Flanders was a carefully pre-planned and orchestrated grasp at memedom, it wouldn't have been half as entertaining, because with every exaggerated gesture and expletive, you relived the race from her perspective and, most crucially, you believed her. There would be a hilarious irony if they tried to media train her into being "that" Cille at all times, when the very thing that made "that" Cille so appealing was the complete lack of media training in her responses. Like Kimi Räikkönen but at the opposite end of the spectrum, after a dozen rider interviews which are all very sterile, media-trained and constructed primarily of cold analysis and cliché, a completely unfiltered, genuine interview really stands out as more genuine, more honest and more real.

Plus of course, if you actually read into what she says, she is a very astute reader of race tactics and can give a very detailed account of how a race developed and, from her team's perspective at least, why. So long as people are willing to accept she won't be a walking meme every time she speaks, they will hopefully be able to recognise that she is nevertheless entertaining, charismatic and honest every time she speaks, and hopefully some of those people who were attracted to pay attention to women's cycling by her interviews listen to enough of their content to understand the racing and come back for more of it.
 
One part of my brain yells 'MARRY HER', the other is affraid she might be too exhausting.
I love her nonetheless.
The next time that Cille is exhausting herself up a great gradient, you need to be standing there roadside holding up a sign:

"I am really worried about your uterus Uttrup, because I want you to have my baby!"

Though tired, she will still smile.
 
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To get things back to the subject at hand, i.e. how awesome Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig is, let's discuss what people's movements are like. Cille is very elegant and seemingly effortless on the bike, one of the most naturally relaxed pedal styles in the women's bunch for sure. And it seems like that suits her well for when it gets really steep as she has that extra gear to go to. Take for example her attack to win at the Giro dell'Emilia.


This was the kind of thing Joaquím Rodríguez used to do, sit in looking easy and riding with as little energy expended as possible, next to no unnecessary motion, and when the gradient is up over 15%, just take off out the saddle and open up a big time gap very quickly. She's definitely among the absolute elite puncheuses right now, and seems to benefit most the steeper the climb is. Would love to see the 2020 version of her take on a rescued Emakumeen Bira, those climbs would be perfect for her. She seems to thrive the steeper the gradient gets and the more the balance tilts away from those riders who can use their power to force their way over the climbs. Maybe a bit more endurance is still required for the really long climbs, but she did manage 4th in the Giro, and it was only a TTT that cost her the podium.

As if there weren't already reasons enough to hate the TTT...
Nice impressive kick there. An impressive 10 second gap built up in a very short space of time. Pretty much Primozesque.
 
The WWT has two standalone TTTs (Vårgårda and Halden), just like the men's World Tour used to have one (Eindhoven). So leave it at that rather than biasing stage races with them too.

It'd be less of a problem if there were sufficient mountain stages and/or individual time trials on the women's calendar, but there really aren't sufficient numbers of those, so when a TTT has such a significant impact on the race it's more noticeable. I think it was Saul Miguel on twitter who pulled up the data a couple of years ago and found that TTTs account for more than double the % of race days in the women's WT calendar than they do in the men's, while individual time trials accounted for less as a %, mountain stages accounted for less than half, and stages with multiple large mountains were almost non-existent at the WWT level (usually confined to races like the Tour de l'Ardêche, and with the Route de France now gone, Giro del Trentino relegated in status and Emakumeen Bira and Tour of California in trouble and unclear as to whether they return post-Covid (the latter particularly unlikely but we'll see), this doesn't seem to be likely to improve soon).

Women's pros have been clamouring for longer and harder races longer than I've been following the sport, back to Edita Pucinskaite and Nicole Cooke, through Emma Johansson to Annemiek van Vleuten and now to Cille, who has been outspoken about the current trend for not giving women the same obstacles to work with as the men in major championship races and the lack of variety in the World Tour races not allowing proper separation of specialisms in the women's péloton.

And of course, Cille challenges them in her own inimitable style, assuaging race organisers' fears that long distances or high altitudes might cause riders' uteruses to fall out with sound, scientific reasoning.
Is the greater number or percentage of TTT's based on there being less $ in women's cycling (therefore having one support car behind an entire team is more cost effective than having a car behind every individual rider)?

On a slightly different point, next season should be more interesting in general with the two dominant Dutch on different teams.
 
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I am sure Bennati would have appreciated reading this forum if we had had these discussions.

Sorry, off topic.

Really appreciate Uttrup's appearance in racing interviews, but I am not a big fan of her appearing on danish mainstream TV shows, where she has to amplify her act in order to satisfy TV viewers nationwide.
I agree. She still needs to be seen as cyclist first, personality second.
 
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEDFG8M1vtw


As shared by Libertine Seguros elsewhere. My only previous reason to love the Col de Romme was Andreas Kloden holding on to the heads of state during the 2009 TDF, but this gives another - and perhaps better - reason; a long range Cille attack!

See her solo odyssey through the Alps from 1:03 to 1:50.

For a moment there I was even seeing Contador (Moolman) and the Schleck brothers again!

Cille was of course Klodi. She doesn't look quite as good on a bike as he did, but she descends much better!

That wouldn't be hard, but the way that she extends her lead down the Romme is very impressive.

I am slightly embarrassed to say that I hadn't watched this epic race before. Better late than never I guess. But for me, I think that the biggest obstacle that women's cycling has in terms of attracting as much of my interest as men's cycling - apart from lack of television coverage - is the significantly less stage racing that they get to do. For some reason (in men's cycling) I don't have that much interest in one day racing, but really love the stage races, especially the grand tours. So I really hope that the women get to do longer racing (both in terms of number of days, and kms per day) and to race more proper high mountain stages such as this. Really entertaining racing!

The complete opposite of the same men's stage that year (though this is also because they had a MTF the day after from memory) :cool:

P.S. Maybe I am comparing women's cycling too much to tennis, but I think this is relevant, as the WTA is probably the most successful women's sporting organisation. Women's tennis grand slams are much the same as the men's. They play on the same court, and the champion must win seven matches. Of course it is best of 3 sets rather than 5, but this doesn't seem to detract too much (imo). If only women's cycling could be similar. Why couldn't they even race the same stages as the men in each TDF, but shorter distances (so their start begins later)? Logistically that shouldn't be a big deal; the course is already set up.

P.S.2. As far as the visual side of the sport goes, I think it's all relative. What I mean by that is, is that it doesn't matter if a male climber is doing 20 km/h up a mountain in comparison to a female climber doing 15 km/h. If there is a strong attack by a female rider then it can still look just as impressive. Take Garcia - at 1:36:10 on this video - on the Columbierre (albeit only briefly) looking like Contador.

P.S.3. To get back on topic, Cille's climbing effort and performance here is slightly similar imo to Quintana in 2013 to AX3 Domaines. And it shows that maybe she can be even better on long climbs than on punchy ones. Also, I really like what the commentators said when she attacked; that she had recently gone to an altitude camp in the Alps, but had trouble sometimes with the training, because she wanted to get off the bike too often to take photos!

P.S.4. Maybe not enough people are watching Cille the cyclist as opposed to Cille the personality. There are more than 50,000 views of her post race interview, but less than 400 views of the (full) race coverage. Admittedly that race link was only uploaded two months ago (as opposed to two years for the interview), but still. The race itself also needs to 'go viral'.
 
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ASO have always sought to get away with the bare minimum, because the point is to use the money made in their cycling endeavours to prop up the Dakar Rally, which is what they care about most these days. There are a lot of points in your post which I've had plenty to say about over the years, regarding ASO's willingness (they are apparently looking at a stage race from 2022, which carries both good and bad implications; firstly it might stop the Giro being complacent, as without any competition as a GT its prestige is inherent so it's got away with breaking a few rules until recently when it's actually been pulled up on not providing the live coverage - though ASO then celebrating their inclusivity in broadcasting La Flèche Wallonne for the first time and the news that the UCI had never actually told the Giro what the penalty would be then made much of the women's cycling-following social media bus' blood boil; on the other hand, the UCI/ASO relationship has already been thought of as worryingly cosy, so the UCI targeting the Giro Rosa now rings alarm bells for some fans that essentially a path is being cleared for ASO to get the 'biggest' and 'best' women's race with a brand new startup as opposed to a race which is over 30 years old and has survived through some pretty lean times. The problem is, the slot in the calendar going up against the Tour used to be really beneficial for the Giro - they could get their highlights coverage package together and append it to the Tour coverage and benefit from maximum crossover. With the requirement now being for live coverage, and also that, unlike a decade or two ago, the Tour now broadcasts all stages start to finish, being compelled to provide live coverage every day is now a handicap in that the channels that want to broadcast cycling are likely tied up with the Tour de France at that point, and the cost of providing it live as a contractual obligation if it's going to be, say, a Eurosport bonus stream, is probably prohibitive unless they go cap in hand to RCS.

UCI have also been very reluctant to hand out WWT status to stage races, even those that are among the longest-running and most established races on the calendar. If I had been running the calendar, Emakumeen Bira (longest continuous race on the calendar, 2020 the first year since the 80s it hasn't run - although a combination of the UCI withdrawing the WWT status to shore up California - which is now not running - and EITB wanting to run it parallel to País Vasco, which would work from the tennis perspective you mention, but would then have it clashing with de Ronde, which pulls a lot more of Bira's target péloton than the men's equivalent, has now left that race in question even though the Basque and Navarrese organisers are putting together a series of additional one-day races) and Thüringen Rundfahrt (7 day stage race, hills, cobbles and ITTs, run since the early 90s) would have been protected as these are races that have proven they can survive, rather than johnny-come-lately cash-in races. Peter van den Veen wrote a really interesting blog about being careful what you wish for with regards to the women's Amstel Gold and the impact it had on the calendar, because his concern was that it would last as long as Boels Rentals' sponsorship and then unless the Dutch were still dominating enough that it remained an appealing race for the Valkenburg organisers to run for the home crowds, it would disappear again, but those races it had killed would not be in the position to recover and take their place on the calendar back.

Hopefully Bira can be saved with the clash with California resolved. That would preserve a serious climbing race on the calendar. Hopefully the Giro can stabilise in its current spot and the mooted ASO race will work and not destabilise the existing calendar. And hopefully the Battle of the North works and is a legit long-form stage race with varied terrain. My biggest fear with that race is that if they focus on the areas used by the Swedish and Norwegian WWT races to date - which I think they should since those areas birthed the concept - it will likely be a long form stage race but where the climbs are about 3km max, which doesn't give us anything we don't already see from myriad other races, so while longer stage races might be a necessity, the race wouldn't 'fill a need' to the same extent. I've actually been working on a Battle of the North type route for the Race Design Thread, my idea was to start in Vårgårda and end in Halden, with the Swedish leg including Norra Klevaliden, the Huy-alike in Huskvarna, the Danish leg including dirt in Herning and hills in Vejle, and then travelling on a rest day via ferry to Larvik, having mountains in Telemark and Oslo-og-Åkershus and then finishing travelling down to Halden for the finish, so there could be a bit of everything.

One thing that is potentially positive is that if Cille is seen as somebody that the organisers want to have in contention or that they want to attract her to enter their race because of the positive response that could garner from fans and/or sponsors, we might see an increase in the climbing in the races which will hopefully enable more specialisation in the péloton.
 
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Fdj and Parkhotel lost out there by not having as strong and / or alert seconds as the other favourite teams. Now they get nothing. Cille looked pretty strong as did Demi, but they were outplayed.
 
Fdj and Parkhotel lost out there by not having as strong and / or alert seconds as the other favourite teams. Now they get nothing. Cille looked pretty strong as did Demi, but they were outplayed.
At least they had some reasons for it though. Parkhotel have lost two of their better riders outside of Demi, with the fallout with Wiebes thanks to her agent's greed, and Sofie de Vuyst being suspended, and it's not really surprising that Vollering might be isolated a bit here. FDJ have the makings of a good team to help here but it's young and I think Muzic after the Giro and the top 20 at the Worlds is just running on empty now. On the other hand I can't believe Canyon and Boels were happy to not chase that group down. Barnes and Pieters are good riders, but on climbs like La Redoute and RAF they would never have been matches for cards like Deignan and Vos, even before you get to Trek outnumbering them in the group.
 
Jul 9, 2019
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At least they had some reasons for it though. Parkhotel have lost two of their better riders outside of Demi, with the fallout with Wiebes thanks to her agent's greed, and Sofie de Vuyst being suspended, and it's not really surprising that Vollering might be isolated a bit here. FDJ have the makings of a good team to help here but it's young and I think Muzic after the Giro and the top 20 at the Worlds is just running on empty now. On the other hand I can't believe Canyon and Boels were happy to not chase that group down. Barnes and Pieters are good riders, but on climbs like La Redoute and RAF they would never have been matches for cards like Deignan and Vos, even before you get to Trek outnumbering them in the group.
Yeah, agree about canyon and Boels but maybe their leaders were not on top form today.
 
Jul 9, 2019
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So the only races left this season that somewhat plays into Cilles strengths are Flanders and partly Roubaix, or have I overlooked something?
 

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