Tour of Flanders: Lotte Kopecky wins three-up sprint for huge home win

Belgian champion Kopecky beats veteran Dutchwomen van Vleuten and van den Broek-Blaak in front of massed home crowds.

Photo: Getty Images

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Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx) won the Tour of Flanders to take her second Women’s WorldTour victory of the season.

Huge crowds lining the roadside lifted their arms to the sky, cheered, and threw beer into the air as Kopecky won Belgium’s most important cycling race wearing the Belgian national champion’s jersey.

She arrived at the finish line with Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) and her SD Worx teammate, Chantal van den Broek-Blaak, after the trio had escaped on the descent of the Paterberg and opened up a one minute gap over the rest of the race.

Kopecky proved the strongest in the sprint for the line, with van Vleuten finishing second and van den Broek-Blaak rounding out the podium.

“It’s quite overwhelming,” Kopecky said after the race. “I’m very thankful to my teammates of team SD Worx and I think this victory is not only for me but for them.”

“Normally, I know that I am faster than Annemiek but after a hard race we also know that Annemiek is fast. We also saw that in [Omloop Het] Niewsblad that we cannot be too confident, still I really backed myself to do the best possible sprint. I was quite confident but you are never sure. I knew that when she couldn’t drop me on the climbs that I had to be confident in the sprint.

“I have no idea [how to celebrate this victory]! I hope that I can do something with my teammates.”

Snow had fallen on the course during the week and, though the sky was clear, it was a cold spring day that greeted the riders on the start line in Oudenaarde. Ahead of them lay a 158 kilometers route punctuated by six cobbled sections and 11 short steep climbs, including the Koppenberg featuring for the first time in the women’s race.

A small breakaway formed shortly after the flag drop composed of American star Clara Honsinger (EF Education-Tibco-SVB), Sofie van Rooijen (Parkhotel Valkenburg), Olivia Baril (Valcar-Travel & Service, Kristyna Burlová (Lotto Soudal) and Maria Martins (Le Col-Wahoo).

Once the breakaway had settled into a controllable configuration, the peloton relaxed, allowing the gap to balloon to two minutes after 40km had been raced. In between these two groups, four riders – Makayla MacPherson (Human Powered Health), Katrijn de Clercq (Lotto Soudal), Lotte Popelier (Bingoal Casino-Chevalmeire-Van Eyck Sport), and Naomi De Roeck (Bingoal Casino-Chevalmeire-Van Eyck Sport) – counterattacked, gained a maximum gap of about a minute and were later joined by Tiffany Cromwell (Canyon-SRAM).

The breakaway split on the cobblestones of Kerkgate leaving just Honsinger and Baril out front, while the SD Worx-led peloton began mopping up some of the early attackers.

Twenty kilometers later, splits also began to appear in the peloton on the steepest sections of the Molenberg; a small group escaped but was promptly chased down by Jumbo-Visma and FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine who had missed the move.

On nearly every climb, counter-attacks emerged from the peloton as teams sought to make the race difficult for the sprinters. Amanda Spratt (BikeExchange-Jayco) attacked just before the Berendries and dangled off the front for a few kilometers while Ellen van Dijk (Trek-Segafredo) accelerated on the Valkenberg.

With these injections of pace, the gap to the breakaway tumbled, allowing Camilla Alessio (Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling), Marit Raaijmakers (Human Powered Health), and Maike van der Duijn (Le Col Wahoo) to jump across before the gap increased again, reaching 1:45 at the bottom of the Koppenberg.

Such was the strength of van Vleuten on the 22 percent gradient slopes of the Koppenberg that a group of eight riders following her wheel-tracks pulled away on the descent, but was caught ahead of the next climb. The breakaway too was caught ten kilometers later.

Then, with 34km still to race, the peloton split once more and a group of eleven riders, including Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM), escaped and built up a lead of 49 seconds ahead of the Kruisberg.

Van Vleuten accelerated on the climb, followed by Kopecky (SD Worx) and Grace Brown (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine), and, as they were caught, Marlen Reusser attacked to bridge across to the lead group.

On the rain-slicked cobbles of the Oude Kwaremont, Reusser and Brodie Chapman (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine) proved to be the strongest members of the breakaway while behind them, van Vleuten attacked from the peloton, distancing everyone except Kopecky and van den Broek-Blaak.

The gap was nearly closed by the bottom of the Paterberg and, on the climb, van Vleuten and Kopecky joined Reusser at the front of the race. Van den Broek-Blaak joined them on the descent and attacked almost immediately, ten kilometers from the finish.

Van Vleuten bridged across but she was still unable to drop Kopecky who stuck to her back wheel, as she had done every time the Dutchwoman had accelerated during the race. This trio initially built up a slender lead of 20 seconds over a small chase group but as the race crept closer to the finish line, it reached a minute and became insurmountable.

Van den Broek-Blaak sat at the front of the group, controlling the pace for her teammate Kopecky who repaid her by outsprinting van Vleuten for the win.

Ronde van Vlaanderen - Tour des Flandres WE Results

1KOPECKY LotteTeam SD Worx4:11:21
2VAN VLEUTEN AnnemiekMovistar Team0:00
3VAN DEN BROEK-BLAAK ChantalTeam SD Worx0:02
4SIERRA ArlenisMovistar Team0:40
5REUSSER MarlenTeam SD Worx0:40
6LUDWIG Cecilie UttrupFDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope0:40
7BROWN GraceFDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope0:40
8NIEWIADOMA KatarzynaCanyon//SRAM Racing0:40
9CHAPMAN BrodieFDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope0:42
11PERSICO SilviaValcar - Travel & Service1:10
12ROY SarahCanyon//SRAM Racing1:10
13NORSGAARD EmmaMovistar Team1:10
14MACKAIJ FloortjeTeam DSM1:10
15MAJERUS ChristineTeam SD Worx1:10
17VOLLERING DemiTeam SD Worx1:10
18MANLY AlexandraTeam BikeExchange - Jayco1:10
19BOOGAARD MaaikeUAE Team ADQ1:10
20VOS MarianneTeam Jumbo-Visma1:10
21HOLDEN ElizabethLe Col - Wahoo1:10
22CHABBEY EliseCanyon//SRAM Racing1:10
23BREDEWOLD MischaParkhotel Valkenburg1:10
24CONFALONIERI Maria GiuliaCeratizit-WNT Pro Cycling1:10
25KASTELIJN YaraPlantur-Pura1:10
26BRENNAUER LisaCeratizit-WNT Pro Cycling1:13
27CAVALLI MartaFDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope1:13
28BALSAMO ElisaTrek - Segafredo1:13
29HENDERSON AnnaTeam Jumbo-Visma1:15
30BIANNIC AudeMovistar Team1:15
31VAN DIJK EllenTrek - Segafredo1:18
32PALADIN SorayaCanyon//SRAM Racing1:18
33LONGO BORGHINI ElisaTrek - Segafredo1:37
34SPRATT AmandaTeam BikeExchange - Jayco2:12
35ANDERSEN SusanneUno-X Pro Cycling Team3:44
36VAN DER DUIN MaikeLe Col - Wahoo3:44
37CONSONNI ChiaraValcar - Travel & Service3:44
38GEORGI PfeifferTeam DSM3:44
39MARKUS FemkeParkhotel Valkenburg3:44
40BORGSTRÖM JuliaAG Insurance - NXTG Team3:44
41SMULDERS SilkeLiv Racing Xstra3:44
42GASPARRINI Eleonora CamillaValcar - Travel & Service3:44
43TOWERS AliceLe Col - Wahoo3:44
44EWERS VeronicaEF Education-TIBCO-SVB3:44
45ALESSIO CamillaCeratizit-WNT Pro Cycling3:46
46RAAIJMAKERS MaritHuman Powered Health3:46
47BARIL OliviaValcar - Travel & Service3:46
48BAKER GeorgiaTeam BikeExchange - Jayco3:46
49CECCHINI ElenaTeam SD Worx3:51
50BRAND LucindaTrek - Segafredo3:51
51DE WILDE JuliePlantur-Pura4:09
52SANGUINETI IlariaValcar - Travel & Service4:09
53LACH MartaCeratizit-WNT Pro Cycling4:09
54DEMEY ValerieLiv Racing Xstra4:09
55OTTESTAD Mie BjørndalUno-X Pro Cycling Team4:09
56CROMWELL TiffanyCanyon//SRAM Racing4:09
57GOOSSENS MartheMultum Accountants Ladies Cycling Team4:09
58JASKULSKA MartaLiv Racing Xstra4:09
59MEIJERING MareilleMultum Accountants Ladies Cycling Team4:09
60DRONOVA-BALABOLINA TamaraRoland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad4:09
61DUVAL EugénieFDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope4:09
62KERN ŠpelaMassi - Tactic Women Team4:09
63ARZUFFI Alice MariaValcar - Travel & Service4:09
64BORGHESI LetiziaEF Education-TIBCO-SVB4:09
65KASPER RomyTeam Jumbo-Visma4:09
66POIDEVIN SaraEF Education-TIBCO-SVB4:09
67AMIALIUSIK AlenaCanyon//SRAM Racing4:09
68GERRITSE FemkeParkhotel Valkenburg4:09
69VAN DER HEIJDEN IngePlantur-Pura4:09
70MARKUS RiejanneTeam Jumbo-Visma4:09
71VAN DE VELDE JuliePlantur-Pura4:09
72BARNES HannahUno-X Pro Cycling Team4:09
73LABECKI CorynTeam Jumbo-Visma8:01
74PLUIMERS IlseAG Insurance - NXTG Team9:49
75DE ZOETE MylèneAG Insurance - NXTG Team9:49
76VAN 'T GELOOF MarjoleinLe Col - Wahoo9:49
77VAN ROOIJEN AnneParkhotel Valkenburg9:49
78NORMAN LETH JulieUno-X Pro Cycling Team9:49
79LE NET MarieFDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope9:49
80BRAAM DaniqueBingoal Casino - Chevalmeire - Van Eyck Sport9:49
81KIRCHMANN LeahTeam DSM9:49
82WILLIAMS LilyHuman Powered Health9:49
83FIDANZA AriannaTeam BikeExchange - Jayco9:49
84HONSINGER ClaraEF Education-TIBCO-SVB9:49
85MEERTENS LoneAG Insurance - NXTG Team9:49
86YONAMINE EriHuman Powered Health9:49
87KOOL CharlotteTeam DSM9:49
88BUJAK EugeniaUAE Team ADQ12:34
89BUCH HannahRoland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad12:55
90WATERREUS KylieLotto Soudal Ladies12:55
91GEURTS MijntjeLotto Soudal Ladies12:55
92DELBAERE FienMultum Accountants Ladies Cycling Team12:55
93EKLUND NathalieMassi - Tactic Women Team12:55
94CLAES LotteBingoal Casino - Chevalmeire - Van Eyck Sport12:55
95DOCX MiekeLotto Soudal Ladies12:55
96LECHNER CorinnaMassi - Tactic Women Team12:55
97TEUTENBERG Lea LinCeratizit-WNT Pro Cycling12:55
98LUTRO AmalieUno-X Pro Cycling Team12:55
99GONZÁLEZ AliciaMovistar Team12:55
100GUARISCHI BarbaraMovistar Team12:55
101VAN DER HULST AmberLiv Racing Xstra12:55
102LANGLEY EmmaEF Education-TIBCO-SVB12:55
103BARBIERI RacheleLiv Racing Xstra12:55
104SWINKELS KarlijnTeam Jumbo-Visma12:55

Results provided by ProCyclingStats.

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