13 Jan 2024

Denmark’s Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig claimed Health Partners Stage 2 of the Santos Tour Down Under with a punchy finish at Stirling on Saturday.
The 28-year-old FDJ-Suez gun won the longest Santos Tour Down Under women’s stage in history with 104.2km between the Glenelg beachside start and the finish at Stirling in the picturesque Adelaide Hills.
“Plan A was to sprint for (teammate and reigning Santos Tour Down Under champion) Grace Brown,’’ Ludwig told TV Seven Plus.
“We had it all figured out and how we were going to do it, but Grace didn’t feel good and we had to change the plan and it’s now time to celebrate.
“It’s so good to be in Australia where my boyfriend (WorldTour rider Miles Scotson) comes from and it’s awesome.”
After winning a stage of the Tour de France in 2022, the victory has put Ludwig in pole position to claim the Santos Tour Down Under title.
The Women’s WorldTour’s Hyundai Stage 3 from Adelaide to Willunga Hill on Sunday suits Ludwig. 
Friday’s stage winner and Santos leader Ally Wollaston relinquished the ochre jersey to the Dane after Sofia Bertizzolo (UAE Team ADQ) finished second at Stirling ahead of Australia’s reigning road champion Ruby Roseman-Gannon (Liv AlUla Jayco).
Bertizzolo also claimed the Ziptrak sprint jersey while Human Powered Health’s Italian Katia Ragusa kept the efex Queen of the Mountain jersey after a fine day in the saddle.
Bertizzolo is just two seconds behind Ludwig and one second ahead of Roseman-Gannon.
Temperatures in Stirling hovered around 24C which suited the riders after Friday's searing 35C. The peloton reached speeds of up to 85 kph, with Henrietta Christie from Health Powered Health forced out of the race after a crash on Friday.   
AG Insurance Soudal attacked about 72km from the finish line with Australian Sarah Gigante at the front.
It was a fitting return to the big stage for Gigante, who described her form as the best it has been starring at the Santos Festival of Cycling in 2021.
Team Bridgelane worked hard early and mirrored Friday’s opening stage when a solo attack from Matilda Raynolds saw the Australian team take the spotlight.
Come Saturday it was time for Raynolds’ teammate Haylee Fuller to hit centre stage.
She was the first rider to test what the potential end of the race would feel like as she crossed the Stirling finish line for the first of the three circuits.
Lidl Trek then heaped pressure on the peloton as the race approached the second efex Queen of the Mountain finish.
The team looked at keeping three-time Santos Tour Down Under champion Amanda Spratt in good shape for a fitting finale.
ARA Australian Cycling Team’s Emily Watts also attacked hard to open up a 29-second gap 12.4km out from the finish, but the peloton caught the 23-year-old Australian seven kilometres from Stirling.
Watts, however, was rewarded with the Yamaha most competitive rider’s jersey.

Key points

12.4km: efex Queen of the Mountain 1: (Category 1) Cherry Gardens Hill
Human Powered Health’s Italian gem Katia Ragusa took out her third QOM win since claiming the pair during Ziptrak Stage 1, earning maximum points. Ragusa claimed 20 points and held onto the QOM podium before the Stirling finish.
35.7km: Ziptrak Sprint 1 – Mawson Road, Meadows at Meadows Bakery
The challengers were nervous and took what seemed an eternity to earn bonus seconds.
UAE Team ADQ’s Dominika Wlodarczyk used every sinew to pip Australia’s Roseman-Gannon (Liv Jayco AlUla) while Ruth Edwards (Human Powered Health), the 2020 Santos Tour Down Under champion, took third place in a long race to the bonus seconds line.     
53.4km: Ziptrak Sprint 2 – Strathalbyn Road at Mylor Oval, Mylor
Poland’s Wlodarczyk earned the maximum three-second time bonus ahead of Australia’s Ruby Roseman-Gannon and US rider Lily Williams from Human Powered Health. Roseman-Gannon provisionally moved within three seconds of race leader Ally Wollaston (AG Insurance Soudal) until the Kiwi gave up her leader's jersey. Wollaston is 31 seconds behind Ludwig.   
82.9km: efex Queen of the Mountain 2: (Category 2) Stirling Climb 
Ragusa was too good and will wear the polka dot jersey for the Hyundai Stage 3 on Sunday.
The Italian easily powered away at Stirling in what should have been an end-of-race dress rehearsal at the same place 21.3km later.   

All the jerseys

Overall Stage Winner – Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ-Suez)
Santos Leader’s Jersey – Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ-Suez)
efex Queen of the Mountain – Katia Rugusa (Human Powered Health)
Ziptrak Sprinter’s Jersey – Sofia Bertizzolo (UAE Team ADQ)
Zwift Young Rider’s Jersey – Francesca Barale (Human Powered Health)
Most Competitive – Emily Watts (Australian National Team)

See full race results here.



The Santos Tour Down Under is part of the UCI World Tour

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