Kopecky takes opening sprint at Vuelta a Burgos Feminas

Belgian champion sprints to victory in first race back since Paris Roubaix Femmes.

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After a post-Paris-Roubaix break — at which she came second — Lotte Kopecky continued SD Worx’s winning streak in the first stage of the Vuelta a Burgos Feminas, comfortably winning the bunch sprint ahead of Czech champion Tereza Neumanova (Liv Racing Xstra) and Emma Norsgaard of Movistar.

The stage got off to a straightforward start by women’s racing standards, with a breakaway of four riders going clear almost immediately after the flag dropped and quickly gaining a gap of a minute and a half. Matilde Vitillo (Bepink), Andrea Ramirez (Massi-Tactic), and Lara Vieceli (Ceratizit-WNT) held on to their lead for much of the stage with the gap only starting to come down with around 40 km to go.

Ramirez took a flyer with just over 30 km to go in a last-ditch attempt to stay away but was caught a few kilometres later.

What started off as looking like a straight-forward sprint stage was soon torn apart by crosswinds. Trek-Segafredo, Canyon//SRAM and Movistar took the opportunity to split the peloton causing some of the pre-race GC favourites including Pauliena Rooijakkers (Canyon//SRAM), Olivia Baril (Valcar Travel & Service), and Veronica Ewers (EF Education-First Tibco) in the second group.

With the help of teammate Alena Amialusik, Rooijakkers managed to get back on terms with the front group thanks also to a lull in the pace, but it wasn’t long before the wind was causing chaos again and the Durango-Durango Emakumeen Saria winner was once again in trouble. Luckily for her, there was another reduction in pace and after collecting the climber back into the group her team amassed at the front.

The pace was high all the way into the finish with the sprinters’ squads making the pace. Throughout the chaos, Kopecky was inconspicuous (and not just because she was wearing the easy-to-miss Women’s WorldTour leader’s jersey in place of her Belgian national champion kit).

SD Worx had a reduced team in the wake of a crash on Tuesday that took out both Demi Vollering and Ashleigh Moolman Pasio who took the decision not to start.

Leading into the finish Kopecky was perfectly positioned behind Canyon//SRAM’s Kasia Niewiadoma and Trek-Segafredo’s Amalie Dideriksen. Norsgaard was also well-placed right behind her but once the Belgian decided to launch her sprint she put considerable daylight between the two. Norsgaard, who also had not raced since Roubaix, faded as she approached the line leaving room for Liv Racing Xstra’s Tereza Neumanova to take the best result of her career in second place.

Kopecky now leads the GC going into stage two with the rest of the bunch on the same time.

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