A season with Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig

Hanging out with his Girona neighbour on and off the bike, David Powell's candid photo project documents Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig's 2020.

Cover photo: We took the bus to Banyoles and rented a boat. On a hot summer’s day, it was so refreshing to jump in the water – did you know I used to be a swimmer? Then we ate snacks and drank wine. Good friends, good food and perfect weather: it was one of the best afternoons I’ve had in Girona.

I moved to FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine for 2020 as they wanted to be one of the biggest, best WorldTour teams. I re-signed for two years in July. It was a bit crazy; people were like ‘What? You haven’t even raced with them yet?’ But I think it’s a really good fit.

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Bike racing is about having fun. When I’m on the start line or the race is on, I’m full serious, but I can’t be that way 24/7. It helps to be relaxed too.

Being a pro cyclist is a full-time job, there’s so many things I need to do that people don’t always see: core work, cooking healthy food, getting good amounts of sleep.

Related – Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig: Conveyor Belt to Success

I’m a positive person and most of the time, I’m happy. But this project also needs to show that there’s not only the funny Cille, but also the serious or sad Cille. You must have balance in life the sweet, the sour, everything because it makes the happy moments even better.
Coronavirus made it a weird year. On the other hand, cycling was lucky that we got races; other sports got almost none. There were precautions we took like wearing masks, temperature tests and lots and lots of PCR tests. Oh my god, they swab out your brain sometimes sticking that thing all the way up!
I saw the guy painting this hill in Imola as I approached in training. Then it hit me: you’re writing my name. It’s just so heart-warming, I couldn’t stop smiling.
 
I was staying with Brodie [Chapman, my FDJ team-mate] and David for some days in the centre of Imola. It was so relaxing because I’d just done the Giro and been on tour for so long, living out of my suitcase for a month. It was nice to get a few days to eat whatever I wanted and ride whenever I wanted.
 “I was a bit sad and irritated, because sometimes I feel being a woman, people think you can’t really pedal and don’t know how much we train. It’s cool to do a series that shows we work fucking hard.”
I was fourth at the Giro, my best ever result there. It’s also a bit disappointing because I was a couple of seconds off the podium. Fourth is the first of the nothing places. I wanted more. Guess I’ve got to put my A-game on this year.
Maybe it’s me, but I feel cyclists also don’t like walking that far. It’s so easy to take my town bike to go for a coffee or grocery shopping.
I'm always proud to wear the Danish colours and represent the my country at the World Championships.
I said to David we have to try all of these Fantas and do a tasting: I need to be an expert! I want to be sponsored by Fanta, I’m trying to reach out to them. I don’t think they’re biting too bad.
This gives a bit of contrast – it’s not always pretty pretty, drinking coffee, looking good. Sometimes you’re sitting in the gutter at the gas station, totally done and drinking a Fanta. That’s my life, sometimes up, sometimes down.
The home trainer was a good alternative when there weren’t races. I sensed that the people watching were so hungry to see some competition. But I’m never gonna be a Zwift rider, nothing beats the road.
Even though corona made it a weird year, I think I made the most of it. We had races, I could still have fun and ride my bike. Those are the things that make me happy.