Annemiek van Vleuten, left, of The Netherlands held off a strong challenge from home rider Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig ©Getty Images

Reigning Olympic time trial champion Annemiek van Vleuten of The Netherlands beat Denmark’s Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig by just two seconds to win the Tour of Scandinavia.

Uttrup Ludwig was looking to capture the title for a second successive year but narrowly missed out despite winning the final stage in front of her Danish fans in Haderslev.

The FDJ-SUEZ rider had given herself an eight-second lead over Van Vleuten after clinching stage two at the Norefjell ski resort in Norway.

She increased that gap further the following day only to be overhauled by Van Vleuten who moved clear after placing third in the time trial at stage four.

Trailing by 17 seconds going into the last day, Uttrup Ludwig gave her all to win the final stage by five seconds.

It was not enough to snatch the general classification title from Movistar’s Van Vleuten who triumphed in an overall time of 14hr 31min 05sec.

Uttrup Ludwig fell two seconds short of Van Vleuten, while The Netherland’s Amber Kraak of Team Jumbo-Visma was 33 seconds further back in third.

"The last few laps were crazy in the rain," said Uttrup Ludwig in a report by Cycling News.

"It was like flooding, full-on rain but I was a woman on a mission.

"I wanted to give it my all and I really did.

"At 17 seconds, I thought that was in reach and it almost was.

"It’s a pity to lose but I’m really proud of how we raced as a team and three victories out of five stages [as a team] is a pretty good score."

It was the ninth edition of the Tour of Scandinavia that started in Mysen in Norway before finishing in Haderslev in Denmark.

"It has been fantastic to see cycling races at World Tour level on the epic Danish roads," said Morten Anderson, head of the Danish Cycling Federation.

"It has been fantastic scenery, both in Herning, Middelfart, and Haderslev and spectacular cycling race with world stars who have given each other a fantastic race .

"Of course I am proud to be standing here with an overall winner, Annemiek van Vleuten, a legend who ends with such a great cycling race."

Sport Event Denmark chief executive Lars Lundov added: "What a weekend.

"Today, the world's best female riders finished in Haderslev in this year's Tour of Scandinavia.

"Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig won the stage today but unfortunately had to see herself beaten at the finish line in the overall standings after a dramatic finish.

"She crowns a fantastic cycling summer with a Tour de France victory for Jonas Vingegaard and World Championships gold for the 4,000-metre men’s team."