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Nokere Koerse: Lotte Kopecky takes back-to-back solo wins in women's race

Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx-Protime) continued her remarkable start to the 2024 season with a solo victory at Nokere Koerse. The world champion produced an all-action display to claim her second successive triumph at the race.

A faller early in the day, Kopecky later engaged in a surprising solo effort midway through the race. She relented with 60km or so remaining, but she still proved the strongest rider in the peloton on the final lap of the finishing circuit around Nokere.

Kopecky sparked the winning move by attacking on the cobbled climb at Lange Ast with 14km to go, bringing teammate Lorena Wiebes, Lily Williams (Human Powered Health) and Arlenis Sierra (Movistar) with her.

The Belgian proceeded to press clear of that elite group on the cobbles at Doorn, quickly establishing a winning gap. Movistar looked to marshal a chase in the closing kilometres after Floortje Mackaij and Emma Norsgaard bridged up to Sierra et al, but they could make no inroads into Kopecky’s margin.

Kopecky bounded up the Nokereberg to secure an emphatic victory, while her teammate Wiebes won the sprint for second place at 17 seconds.
Williams pipped Sofie van Rooijen (VolkerWessels) for third, while Sierra came home in fifth, but the day belonged to Kopecky, who produced a near replica of her 2023 victory.

“I like this course and I used that to my advantage,” said Kopecky, who downplayed the impact of the early crash in which her teammate Wiebes was also a faller.

“They crashed in front of me and I couldn’t avoid it, but there were no issues from it. I managed to come back pretty easy, and I just focused on what I had to do in the race.”

How it unfolded

Despite the brisk start, it took some time for the day’s first break to take shape. Sofia Bertizzolo (UAE ADQ) was the first rider to get any traction on attack, and she was joined shortly afterwards by Kopecky, who attacked from the peloton on the climb of Holstraat after 58km.

Kopecky proceeded to drop Bertizzolo on the following ascent of Petegemberg, and she would open a lead of half a minute on the peloton by the time she crossed the finish line for the first time with a shade under 60km to go.

At that point, one wondered if Kopecky would try to go the distance alone, but she ultimately decided to wait for reinforcements from behind. “I hoped somebody would join me and from the car, they said you decide if you want to stay out in front,” Kopecky explained. “It was a little bit too early but if you don’t try, you won’t win.”

On the first of two laps of the finishing circuit, a four-rider group featuring Norsgaard, Bertizzolo, Femke Markus (SD Worx) and Jeanne Korevaar (LIV) eked out a small gap over the bunch, and the move took on a more dangerous hue when it briefly expanded to nine riders, with Wiebes among those bridging across.

SD Worx always had riders on hand to police the race, which came back together again with 32km remaining. Shortly after they took the bell in Nokere, Anya Louw (AG Insurance-Soudal) attacked alone, and the Australian would spent 10km or so off the front before Valerie Demey (VolkerWessels), Stina Kagevi (Coop – Repsol) and Femke de Vries (GT Krush Rebellease) bridged up to her.

That quartet was never going to fend off the collective might of SD Worx, however, and the race came back together on the climb of Lange Ast. From there, Kopecky began to take over. Williams and Sierra battled gamely to join Kopecky and Wiebes at the head of the race, but there was little to be done in the face of the world champion’s final attack.

The performance augurs well for Kopecky’s prospects in the coming weeks in Belgium and northern France. “I learned that I still know how to ride cobbles,” she said. Something of an understatement.


SOURCE: CyclingNews   (go to source)
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