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Frosty scenes and allegations of insults Saturday between Demi Vollering and Lotte Kopecky overshadowed the aftermath of the team’s third-straight classics win in eight days.
The rare sight of a bike throw deciding victory between two teammates preceded fraught moments on Siena’s spectacular square.
“I was confused. At first, I thought we would cross the line celebrating together, but then Lotte suddenly took over the lead from me in the last corner,” race-winner Vollering said.
“I thought, ‘Is she doing a leadout for me?’ But then she turned out to pull harder. So I realized, ‘OK, if we are no longer teammates now, then I will also go for it.'”
The final of Saturday’s Siena classic saw defending champion Kopecky and star teammate Vollering lock into a “no gifts” nailbiter as they rode toward the Del Campo conclusion.
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An attack by Kopecky on the Santa Caterina climb when Vollering was boxed in set the tone for a full-blooded rampage through the final 500 meters toward the line.
The intra-team agreements that typically decide such situations were scrapped in favor of ruthless pursuit of victory.
“I was in doubt. What should we do now? Nothing had been agreed,” second-place Kopecky recalled.
— Velon CC (@VelonCC) March 4, 2023
The immediate moments after the race saw awkward silence and what looked like bubbling tension replace the usual congratulations and celebrations.
Reports that Vollering hollered “kutwijf” [“Bitch” – ed.] when they crossed the line were later brushed off as SD Worx’s two toppers towed the party line.
“In the end, it’s the team that won, and we always say, ‘if it is a victory for the team, then it’s good,’ so this was doubly good,” Vollering said.
SD Worx staff later admitted no plans were made for a team one-two before riders rolled out of the team bus Saturday morning.
It could be a decision – or lack of – that simmers some time.
“Lotte and Demi are old and wise enough to make up their own minds,” team manager Danny Stam said Saturday night. “They sprinted for it as two winners. Had they not sprinted for the win, there would have been comments too.”
The record books will show a third-straight Strade Bianche Donne victory for the SD Worx powerhouse and a hat trick of early season one-day wins.
But the annals don’t always tell the full story – just ask the errant horse that nearly derailed Vollering in a dramatic closing hour of racing.
💬Demi Vollering: “We made it super exciting, everyone was on the edge of their seats until the very last millimetre. Everyone enjoyed this race. Lotte and I are going to have a lot of fun together this spring.”
— Team SD Worx (@teamsdworx) March 4, 2023