Lotte Kopecky’s quest for prestigious Tour of Flanders – Paris-Roubaix double derailed by crash

'I thought my ankle was broken.' Belgian star battles back from pileup in final 40km but left with seventh in the velodrome.

Photo: BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images

ROUBAIX, France (VN) – Paris-Roubaix Femmes pre-race favorite Lotte Kopecky came very close to a unique Flanders-Roubaix double on Saturday afternoon.

Being part of a big crash on the cobbles at 38km from Roubaix disrupted the 27-year-old Belgian rider’s charge for a prestigious double. Kopecky bounced back after the crash and won the group sprint at 12 seconds from leaders with eventual winner, Alison Jackson.

Last year there were regrets for Kopecky after finishing as runner-up but this year’s seventh place felt different for the star of the Spring classics.

“I had a really good day so obviously this is a missed opportunity but that’s bike racing. There’s no regrets,” a mud-clad Kopecky stated right after the race in the mixed zone at the inside of the Roubaix velodrome.

The strong Belgian rider explained that she was banking on other teams to bring the lead group back since her SD-Worx teammate Femke Markus was present in front.

Disaster struck when her Dutch teammate crashed while gearing up to sprint for victory on the velodrome. Markus slipped away on the blue band at the inside of the track, the so-called Cote d’zur.

Kopecky sighed.

“That was … Femke was the perfect person to be in the breakaway move. She’s got a huge engine so she certainly knows how to handle this race. She’s also quite fast after a long, hard race. Femke managed to get herself in this position and that’s her merit,” Kopecky heralded her disappointed teammate who came across the finish line while hitting her handlebars.

“I felt really strong today but it wasn’t up to me to chase. There were teams who didn’t have anybody in there like Jumbo-Visma or Movistar. You’d expect them to take the initiative but that didn’t happen. The breakaway group received too much of an advantage. Straight away I felt that it was slightly too big so we should’ve had two riders in it. Maybe we made a mistake there,” Kopecky said.

Kopecky was all smiles when seeing who won the race.

“I really like Alison Jackson. It’s really nice for her that she wins Paris-Roubaix. Two years ago we were in the same team, at Liv Racing. She is – how can I describe this – she’s a very fun character, very colorful. And she can ride very fast with a bike. I’m really happy for her. She’s super funny and has a great sense of humor. You’ve got to take a look at TikTok,” Kopecky said.

Kopecky clearly loves Paris-Roubaix with everything that comes along with it.

“Clearly, it was another very animated Paris-Roubaix. You can’t predict anything,” Kopecky smiled. “It’s only the third edition. One day it’ll work out for me. Everything was under control until the moment of the crash,” she said.

“If you see how close we came despite the crash then probably we would’ve caught them back. This is just how Paris-Roubaix works. You’ve got to take everything into account that can happen in this race. I’ll just come back next year.”

‘I thought my ankle was broken’

Pre-race favorite Kopecky saw her chances derailed by a crash 40km out.

Kopecky’s smile turned to a painful grin when reminded about her crash on the cobbles of pavé sector from Pont-Thibault to Ennevelin.

Last year’s winner Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) was leading the peloton over the 1400 meters long cobbled sector. The race caravan kicked up standing water from the roadside back onto the cobbles and made this section extremely slippery. The Italian rider started slipping and crashed; the line of riders behind her followed suit.

“It was super slippery over there. It goes very quickly. If something happens in front of you there’s no escaping it. At first I thought I would be unable to continue the race,” Kopecky said.

“At first I felt pain in my hip but then suddenly someone rode straight over my foot and I was in a huge amount of pain; I thought my ankle was broken. I was staying on the ground for a while but then I was thinking about never giving up. I felt that I was able to stand up,” she continued.

“The mechanic came with a bike and asked if I would try again. Right after the crash the pain is the worst but when back on the bike it fades away. In hindsight, I’m glad that I hopped back on the bike and fought back. As we’re speaking there’s pain everywhere but it feels okay. I’ll have to get myself checked though.”


‘The crash happened at a very untimely moment … we had the race under our control.’

On sector 12 from Auchy-les-Orchies to Bersée it was Kopecky who accelerated in the peloton. Two years ago she had a mechanical on this section and last year she used the section for a fierce acceleration too.

“It’s a sector I really like. If there’s a bit more wind then it’s a great sector,” Kopecky said.

She was getting worried about the breakaway group at that moment in the race.

“One by one our team was taken out by punctures once on the pavé; that was not so nice. The pace we were doing was just not hard enough to change something in the race. We saw in the last edition that it is okay to start racing early so that’s what we tried,” Kopecky said, who added that she wasn’t chasing flat out since she had a teammate in the lead group.

“For me it wasn’t necessary to chase flat out because we still had Femke in the lead group,” she added.

After the acceleration from Kopecky on sector 12 the advantage of the breakaway group of 18 riders was coming down fast, from six minutes to two minutes at sector 9 where the big crash happened.

“The crash happened at a very untimely moment because until that moment we had the race under our control. We were going pretty well toward the breakaway but then this happened. That’s bike racing,” Kopecky said.

Despite losing a handful of minutes in the crash she worked her way back to the second chase group with Marianne Vos and Longo Borghini.

“For our group it was a matter of bridging up to the first chase group. When I came into the group with Lorena she really emptied herself to try and bring us as close as possible while we also had a strong Femke in the break. In the chase group it took too long before everybody started believing that it was possible to catch the breakaway group. We narrowly missed out on catching them back.”

Kopecky isn’t taking a break from racing after her successful cobbled spring classics campaign.

“Next week I’m still doing the Amstel Gold Race and then I’m headed to Canada for a week on the track. Then it’s time for holiday.”

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