No pressure for Lotte Kopecky ahead of possible Flanders-Roubaix double: ‘Of course you want to win again’

The Belgian believes that the Koppenberg should be put later in the Flanders course after carnage on the cobbles.

Photo: Gruber Images

Lotte Kopecky says that there is no pressure for SD Worx to maintain its near-perfect streak this spring at Paris-Roubaix this Saturday.

The Belgian stormed away to her second consecutive Tour of Flanders title last weekend, soloing to the line after breaking clear with two of her teammates and just one other — Silvia Persico. It continued what has been a dominant year so far for SD Worx with five WorldTour wins out of a possible 10 with four different riders.

Paris-Roubaix is a race that SD Worx is yet to taste success with Trek-Segafredo winning the first two editions. Kopecky finished second behind Elisa Longo Borghini last year and while she wants to take home the cobble, she’s not feeling any stress to take it.

“For me, there’s less pressure. Of course, you want to win the race again and we will not be happy if we don’t win the race again. But, if don’t win the race, I think we already can be quite happy with how the season went. It cannot be like this the whole year or every weekend,” Kopecky told VeloNews a day after her Flanders victory.

If she won Sunday, she would become the first woman to the win Flanders and Roubaix in the same season.

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It’s not just SD Worx that has been storming it in 2023 and Kopecky has won three of the five races that she’s ridden this year, and almost won a fourth.

In addition to Flanders, the 27-year-old has soloed to success at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Nokere Koerse and was just pipped to the line by her teammate Demi Vollering at Strade Bianche.

This season is by far Kopecky’s best in her career, even compared to her strong 2022 campaign.

“I’m getting in my strongest years. I have a super strong team. I have a lot of freedom in the team, which also relaxes me a lot. So yeah, I think my move last year to SD Worx has definitely been one of the most important steps in my career,” Kopecky said.

Double Flanders

Lotte Kopecky thrills home fans
Lotte Kopecky thrills the home fans (Photo: Gruber Images)

Winning two Tours of Flanders in a row is no mean feat and Kopecky is only the second rider to achieve it in the 19-year history of the women’s race. She did it in very different style this time out after she went up against Annemiek van Vleuten in a sprint to the line in 2022.

Winning solo allowed her to contemplate her win for some time, but it didn’t give her the same rush as she got beating Van Vleuten to claim her first Flanders title. Instead, it took time to really sink in just what she had done.

“It was incredible, but I didn’t have that feeling. Maybe I just didn’t realize yet, but then in the evening, I came home I couldn’t sleep so I watched the race again,” she said. “Last year was a big goal, the shape was good then, but I was still like, can I do it? Can I not? I was with Chantal van den Broek-Blaak in the final with me and she really she did everything for me there.

“There were also a lot of emotions immediately after the finish because I had to sprint with Annemiek. That was really special. Yesterday, we always had things in control, Demi was in the group behind and she did her job really good. Before, there was Christine and Elena, the two best helpers in the race you can wish for.

“Then there was Lorena and Marlen with me after the Koppenberg. This was a very nice victory but last year was completely different because it was the first one and also there was so much adrenaline after the finish.”

Moving the Koppenberg?

One of the defining moments of the race came at 45 kilometers to go when the riders were scaling the Koppenberg. The cobbles had become slick after the men’s race had gone through, forcing most of the women to dismount and run to the top.

Several pre-race favorites found themselves caught up in the carnage and, as all of this was happening, the race-winning move formed and the chasers never made it back.

There was criticism afterward with some riders saying that the climb shouldn’t be in the race at all. Kopecky disagrees though she thinks that the steep ascent would work better if it was placed later in the race when the bunch was smaller.

“Last year was pretty good but it was dry. I heard that with men’s there was a car and there was some water and mud on the Koppenberg. If only you can ride up and the rest have to walk, maybe that’s not fair,” Kopecky said.

“After the race I heard somebody say, it’s okay to have the Koppenberg in the race but maybe at a different point. Now, we come with too many women there. The bunch has not split enough and there was not enough race yet. If you come there with a bunch that has already raced from group of 15 or 20 riders then it’s completely different and then the Koppenberg is perfect for the race. But now with a whole bunch, it’s limited.”

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