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Demi Vollering: Swearing at 2023 Strade Bianche 'wasn't meant for Lotte Kopecky'

Demi Vollering and Lotte Kopecky have opened up about the events of the 2023 Strade Bianche Women a year on from the controversial and awkward race finale in Siena.

The pair unexpectedly sprinted it out for the win at the end of the 136km race, with Vollering going on to yell an expletive after crossing the line, leaving an awkward atmosphere around the pair as they awaited the result of the photo finish.

The Dutchwoman said that the swearing she let loose after the line was aimed at another rider – Kristen Faulkner, who had spent 30km out front solo before the pair caught and passed her on the day’s final climb.

“All the fuss came mainly because I said ‘kutwijf’ [an offensive Dutch expletive – Ed.] out loud,” Vollering said in an excerpt from Ride magazine published by WielerFlits.

“However, that wasn’t meant for Lotte. I saw blood the moment I took off my gloves and then I remembered that Kristen Faulkner rode me into the barriers on that last climb into Siena. The swearing was towards her.”

The pair, who have combined to win the two most recent editions of the race, each for the first time, have long since made up after any awkwardness beyond the finish line.

Kopecky said that it would’ve been “fake” had they immediately celebrated together after fighting for the win having overtaken Faulkner, who finished third. Faulkner had finished third behind the same SD Worx duo last year, but was later disqualified for using a glucose monitor during the race.

“I actually think that final went perfectly. I would have found it fake if we had flown directly into each other’s arms after the finish line,” she said. “That wasn’t the feeling at that moment. It was very awkward. What the fuck happened? For the first five minutes there was some confusion.

“But we knew that things were fine between us. I was so sorry that the media made such a game out of it. All that fuss wasn’t nice at the time but now we shrug our shoulders about it. We know how it is.”

Vollering said that she only felt happy after the race when she saw that Kopecky was too. Meanwhile, the Belgian, who said they both needed time to “let everything sink in” after finishing, acknowledged that a similar incident isn’t likely to happen again in future.

“We’ve experienced it once now. What happened then isn’t going to happen a second time, we both know that,” she said, before going on to explain why there had been no team orders for the finish after the pair caught and passed lone leader Faulkner.

“I regret that we had no radio contact with the team car in the streets of Siena. All contact falls away between those buildings. In the car, they didn’t even know that we had overtaken and left Faulkner behind on the climb. Our team management had also previously said to ride full steam ahead and then fight it out amongst ourselves.

“Maybe we made the mistake of not talking. It was full gas in the last 6km and it wasn’t possible to take a moment to speak – otherwise, we wouldn’t have even been able to sprint for the win.”

The duo will be back to lead SD Worx-ProTime at the race this Saturday, with the leading Women’s WorldTour squad having already taken seven wins this season – including Kopecky’s overall UAE Tour victory.

Vollering only has the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in her legs, finishing sixth as Kopecky missed out on defending her title in the sprint to Marianne Vos.

Vollering concluded that she was “happy” things turned out as they had. Easy for a winner to say, perhaps, but more referring to the fact that the pair properly raced for the win rather than one or the other being ‘handed’ the win via pre-arranged agreement.

“I’m happy that it turned out this way. Surely, it’s better than when you’ve spoken among yourselves and then I would’ve been told that I could win. OK, then you’re also happy, but instead, I beat Lotte in the sprint and I actually like that way a lot more.”

SOURCE: CyclingNews   (go to source)
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