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The two were locked in a gripping battle on the climb to Piazza del Campo, and Kopecky had to dig extremely deep to stay onto van Vleuten’s wheel.
Having done so, Kopecky then used her superior sprint to take the win.
Kopecky’s teammate Ashleigh Moolman Pasio finished third, ten seconds back.
The Belgian was also the only rider able to keep up with van Vleuten’s earlier accelerations on the last of the race’s eighth gravel sections through the Tuscan countryside, where they went clear from the rest of the race.
But the pair were joined by ten other riders ahead of the run-in to Siena, in what was an unusually large group for Strade Bianche.
Three of those riders (Demi Vollering, Ashleigh Moolman Pasio, and Chantal van den Broek Blaak) wore SD Worx kit, and Kopecky was quick to thank her team for the role played in the victory.
“I cannot believe it. This was actually the plan from the team. Racing like this with SD Worx is super-nice to do, as I can attack myself, and have my teammates behind me who have my back. I think today was just perfect. I cannot believe this,” Kopecky said at the finish.
Despite her quick sprint finish, Kopecky was not confident of beating van Vleuten at the finish.
“No, you’re never confident, as I think we saw last week [when van Vleuten defeated Kopecky’s teammate Demi Vollering in a two-up sprint]. But I had a good feeling today, and I knew that the person to follow was Annemiek.
“First I had to let her go a bit, and then, I don’t know what happened in my head, but I just kept going and when he turned to the right I passed her, but then on the other corner, she passed me again. It was just one sprint through the last corner.”
Prior to that thrilling finishing sprint, the race had been a tough war of attrition, on gravel roads that were this year dry rather than muddy due to the dry, albeit cold, conditions.
Rebecca Koerner (Uno-X) and Emily Newsom (EF Education-Tibco-SVB) were the early escapees in the race, and Newsom went clear of the latter to become the sole leader of the race.
Her lead reached over three minutes but began tumbling down as the pace increased in the peloton.
Newsom was reeked in around 50km from the finish whicch sparked a battle in the peloton — already been reduced to about 40 riders — for a new breakaway group to form.
Jeanne Korevaar (Liv Racing Xstra), Mavi Garcia (UAE Team ADQ), and Grace Brown (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine-
Marta Bastianelli (UAE Team ADQ) and Alena Amialiusik (Canyon-SRAM) later counter-attacked a move Chantal van den Brock Blaak (SD Worx), Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo), and Liane Lippert (DSM), but they too were all brought back as the race reached the sixth gravel sector.
Movistar set a fearsome pace heading onto it, before van Vleuten took over to string out what was left of the peloton, with Kopecky remaining attentive on her wheel.
Kopecky then launched an attack on a rise shortly after the sector, and had a lead of 17 seconds by the start of the seventh and penultimate gravel sector.
That lead quickly evaporated, however, as Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) led a group of five that caught her, also featuring van Vleuten, Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma), Cecile Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Nouvelle-Acquitaine Futuoscope), and Moolman Pasio.
This lead group of six became eight when Shirin van Anrooij (Trek-Segafredo) and Demi Vollering (SD Worx) paced back up, then doubled as another eight riders including Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) and van den Broek Blaak caught them.
Van den Broek Blaak gained a small advantage with an attack just prior to the final gravel sector, but inevitably it was van Vleuten who came to the fore, launching the committed move as the gradient tilted upwards that everyone knew and feared was coming.
Only Kopecky was able to stick on her wheel, and the two rode away from the rest.
The chasers did not give up, however, as Niewiadoma and Ludwig dragged up a group containing Vos, Moolman Pasio, Vollering, and Borghini.
With a numerical advantage, SD Worx attempted to work over the rest of the bunch with Moolman Pasio and Vollering both attacking in tandem.
But the group actually got bigger rather than smaller by the foot of the final climb, with more stragglers catching up.
Kopecky was the only rider able to follow another fearsome van Vleuten acceleration, however, and beat her to claim the biggest win of her career.
Strade Bianche Donne Results
|1||KOPECKY Lotte||Team SD Worx||3:59:14|
|2||VAN VLEUTEN Annemiek||Movistar Team||0:00|
|3||MOOLMAN Ashleigh||Team SD Worx||0:10|
|4||NIEWIADOMA Katarzyna||Canyon//SRAM Racing||0:19|
|5||LUDWIG Cecilie Uttrup||FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope||0:24|
|6||CHABBEY Elise||Canyon//SRAM Racing||0:28|
|7||VOS Marianne||Team Jumbo-Visma||0:29|
|8||LONGO BORGHINI Elisa||Trek - Segafredo||0:29|
|9||VAN ANROOIJ Shirin||Trek - Segafredo||0:34|
|10||PERSICO Silvia||Valcar - Travel & Service||0:34|
|11||BROWN Grace||FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope||0:39|
|12||VOLLERING Demi||Team SD Worx||0:50|
|13||LIPPERT Liane||Team DSM||1:37|
|14||MACKAIJ Floortje||Team DSM||1:39|
|16||VAN DEN BROEK-BLAAK Chantal||Team SD Worx||2:07|
|17||KOSTER Anouska||Team Jumbo-Visma||3:24|
|18||ROSEMAN-GANNON Ruby||Team BikeExchange - Jayco||3:28|
|19||PALADIN Soraya||Canyon//SRAM Racing||3:28|
|20||STULTIENS Sabrina||Liv Racing Xstra||3:28|
|21||LABECKI Coryn||Team Jumbo-Visma||3:31|
|22||AMIALIUSIK Alena||Canyon//SRAM Racing||3:31|
|23||GERRITSE Femke||Parkhotel Valkenburg||3:33|
|24||FISHER-BLACK Niamh||Team SD Worx||3:37|
|25||CORDON-RAGOT Audrey||Trek - Segafredo||3:37|
|26||LABOUS Juliette||Team DSM||3:37|
|27||MAGNALDI Erica||UAE Team ADQ||3:46|
|28||BASTIANELLI Marta||UAE Team ADQ||3:46|
|29||GARCÍA Mavi||UAE Team ADQ||3:48|
|30||HENDERSON Anna||Team Jumbo-Visma||3:55|
|31||VALLIERES Magdeleine||EF Education-TIBCO-SVB||4:16|
|32||BUJAK Eugenia||UAE Team ADQ||4:16|
|33||WILLIAMS Lily||Human Powered Health||4:33|
|34||LACH Marta||Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling||4:38|
|35||GUAZZINI Vittoria||FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope||4:44|
|36||FIDANZA Arianna||Team BikeExchange - Jayco||6:21|
|37||BERTIZZOLO Sofia||UAE Team ADQ||6:21|
|39||PATIÑO Paula||Movistar Team||6:21|
|40||WILLIAMS Georgia||Team BikeExchange - Jayco||6:27|
|41||SMITH Abi||EF Education-TIBCO-SVB||6:31|
|42||KOREVAAR Jeanne||Liv Racing Xstra||6:31|
|43||DRONOVA-BALABOLINA Tamara||Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad||6:31|
|44||SCHOENS Quinty||Parkhotel Valkenburg||6:34|
|45||BALSAMO Elisa||Trek - Segafredo||6:34|
|46||BUIJSMAN Nina||Human Powered Health||6:40|
|47||DEMEY Valerie||Liv Racing Xstra||6:40|
|48||LE NET Marie||FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope||6:40|
|49||SHACKLEY Anna||Team SD Worx||6:43|
|50||CURINIER Léa||Team DSM||6:54|
|51||GONZÁLEZ Alicia||Movistar Team||7:05|
|52||ROOIJAKKERS Pauliena||Canyon//SRAM Racing||8:43|
|53||JASKULSKA Marta||Liv Racing Xstra||8:46|
|54||BORGHESI Letizia||EF Education-TIBCO-SVB||8:58|
|56||BARIL Olivia||Valcar - Travel & Service||10:04|
|57||MARTURANO Greta||Top Girls Fassa Bortolo||10:29|
|58||ARZUFFI Alice Maria||Valcar - Travel & Service||11:19|
|59||CARBONARI Anastasia||Valcar - Travel & Service||12:41|
|60||ALESSIO Camilla||Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling||12:41|
|61||BEEKHUIS Teuntje||Team Jumbo-Visma||12:57|
|62||KIRCHMANN Leah||Team DSM||12:57|
|63||CROMWELL Tiffany||Canyon//SRAM Racing||12:58|
|65||VAN DE VELDE Julie||Plantur-Pura||12:58|
|66||CONFALONIERI Maria Giulia||Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling||12:58|
|68||RIEDMANN Linda||Team Jumbo-Visma||12:58|
|71||RAGUSA Katia||Liv Racing Xstra||13:02|
|73||MALCOTTI Barbara||Human Powered Health||13:10|
|74||LUTRO Amalie||Uno-X Pro Cycling Team||13:14|
|75||DE JONG Demi||Parkhotel Valkenburg||13:18|
|76||GUILMAN Victorie||FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope||13:18|
|77||BALDUCCI Francesca||Aromitalia - Basso Bikes - Vaiano||13:18|
|78||HANSON Lauretta||Trek - Segafredo||13:18|
|79||SPRATT Amanda||Team BikeExchange - Jayco||13:21|
|80||POIDEVIN Sara||EF Education-TIBCO-SVB||13:21|
|81||NILSSON Hanna||Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling||13:21|
|82||REALINI Gaia||Isolmant - Premac - Vittoria||13:21|
|83||BARNES Hannah||Uno-X Pro Cycling Team||13:31|
|84||BIANNIC Aude||Movistar Team||14:09|
|85||AALERUD Katrine||Movistar Team||14:09|
Results provided by ProCyclingStats.