Kopecky’s victory marks magnificent end to 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships

By PressCPA
Agosto 13, 2023
lotte kopecky worlds

Belgium’s Lotte Kopecky today rode solo to her first UCI World Champion title on the road. In doing so, she added a third rainbow jersey to her collection from the UCI Cycling World Championships that have taken place in Glasgow and across Scotland, after those on the track.

Demi Vollering (NED) and Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (DEN) joined her on the podium. Hungary’s Kata Blanka Vas (11th across the line) took gold in the Women Under-23 category.

“It’s been an amazing year and also a very hard year”, Kopecky reflected as she wiped her tears. “I don’t know what keeps me pushing but it really means a lot to me. It’s kind of a dream that comes true and I really want to enjoy wearing the rainbow jersey for the next year. We’re a big cycling nation but in the women’s part of cycling, Belgium was always a bit behind. I’m really proud that we showed with our team we can also win the biggest races. After the two titles on the track, I thought it would be almost impossible to win on the road. Three titles in a week, it’s crazy.”

The 210 riders set off from the shores of Loch Lomond for 151.4km. Countless stars lined up to compete for the last two rainbow jerseys up for grabs that for the last year have been the property of Annemiek van Vleuten (NED), riding the UCI Worlds for the last time, and Niamh Fisher-Black (NZL) in the Under 23 category. Chloé Dygert (USA) and Kasia Niewiadoma (POL) did not start due to illness.

INTENSE FROM THE START

Was the peloton inspired by Frenchman Axel Laurance’s victory in the Men Under 23 road race on Saturday after a 150km breakaway? After about 20km of fierce battle, an impressive group broke away with 2015 UCI World Champion Elizabeth Deignan (GBR), three-time UCI World Champion in cyclo-cross Sanne Cant (BEL), cycling esports 2020 UCI World Champion Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (RSA) and the talented Mischa Bredewold (NED), Juliette Labous (FRA) and Elise Chabbey (SUI). The ultra-versatile and talented Kata Blanka Vas (HUN) was also in the mix.

The big nations were in action even before the ascent of Crow Road (5.8km at 4%), but the attackers never managed to build a gap greater than a minute. Sensing the danger embodied by the breakaways riders, Germans, Australians and Italians drove the chase in the peloton. The leaders were caught shortly after the summit, and a new race began.

An almost complete peloton entered the streets of Glasgow, after the return of a group of riders that had been dropped earlier, including Dutchwomen Lorena Wiebes, Shirin van Anrooij and Marianne Vos. From the first entry onto the final circuit, Chabbey went on the attack. Successive counter-attacks were neutralised while the Swiss continued her efforts, increasing her lead to 1’30” over a considerably reduced peloton.

A TACTICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL BATTLE

With 37.5km to go, after having relied for a long time on Belgium’s work for Lotte Kopecky, the Dutch decided to act. A new situation was taking shape with acceleration by Van Vleuten, Van Anrooij and Riejanne Markus in pursuit of Chabbey. The gap was shrinking. Van Vleuten upped the ante a little more to make the selection with Italy’s Silvia Persico. Kopecky felt threatened and accelerated herself, with Vollering following but not helping. Using their numbers, the Oranje riders tried to open the way to victory against the dominant Belgian.

After a new acceleration from Van Vleuten and Kopecky, there were only five riders left to accompany them in pursuit of the Swiss and a UCI World title: Vollering, Marlen Reusser (SUI), Deignan, Denmark’s Cecilie Uttrup-Ludwig and Austria’s Christina Schweinberger.

The penultimate ascent of Montrose Street gave rise to more battle. Vollering went on the offensive at the top of the climb, with Kopecky on her wheel. This acceleration meant the end for Chabbey’s ride at the front while Van Vleuten was off the back due to a mechanical. Deignan and Schweinberger decided to join forces to isolate themselves at the front. Reusser reacted and set off in pursuit… but Vollering could only watch when Kopecky flew past her to bridge the gap to the leaders.

KOPECKY WINS A THRILLER

The last lap in the intense Glasgow atmosphere was worthy of the greatest playwrights. In bridging the gap to the four leaders, Vollering threw her last energy into the battle. Her rivals saw her suffer from cramps and Uttrup-Ludwig went on the attack as the road rose again in front of her.

Kopecky followed her wake, then countered with 5.5km to go. The versatile champion gave everything on Montrose Street to establish her domination and fly away, alone against the rest of the world, towards her third title of these 2023 Worlds (after the elimination and points races on the track). She eventually crossed the line with a gap of 7 seconds to Vollering and Uttrup Ludwig.

The Women Under 23 podium was made up of 11th placed Kata Blanka Vas followed by the Netherlands’ Shirin van Anrooij (13th overall) and Great Britain’s Anna Shackley (17th).

article and photos from www.uci.org

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