E3 Saxo Classic Women’s Race Cancelled: Rising Costs and Calendar Conflicts

Julia Kopecky 2023 Leiedal Koerse

The E3 Saxo Classic, known in the women’s peloton as the Leiedal Koerse, will not see its third edition in 2024. The race, which began in 2022 and was set for promotion to a 1.1 event this year, has been removed from the calendar due to a mix of sporting and economic factors.

Jacques Coussens, the spokesperson, detailed the event’s inception and progression. Initially a 1.2 race for elite women on the last Saturday of April in Bavikhove, the event coincided with a junior race, both under the umbrella of the E3 Saxo Classic organisation. Plans were afoot to align the women’s race with the men’s E3 Saxo Classic WorldTour event on the classic Friday, from 2025.

However, recent developments forced a reevaluation. Key issues included calendar conflicts with established WorldTour races such as the women’s event in De Panne and Gent-Wevelgem, both of which retain their dates and statuses. This made it challenging to introduce a third WorldTour race within the same time frame, especially considering the limited number of riders in most women’s teams.

Economic factors also played a significant role. As Coussens noted, the costs of organising women’s races continue to rise, yet these events struggle to attract sufficient sponsor interest. This economic imbalance ultimately led the board of the Nieuwe Velovrienden, the race organisers, to question the feasibility of even a final edition in Bavikhove for 2024. Fearing significant losses and potential debts, they decided to discontinue the race, citing a lack of long-term prospects and financial viability.

Thus, Czech cyclist Julia Kopecky remains the last winner of the women’s E3 Saxo Classic. Her 2023 victory over Poland’s Daria Pikulik and the Netherlands’ Lieke Nooijen marks the end of this short-lived event.

The 2023 Leiedal Koerse saw an unexpected finish. After aggressive riding on the Paterberg and Oude Kwaremont, Human Powered Health seemed in control with four riders in a leading group of nine. However, a late surge by Julia Kopecky, unrelated to Lotte, saw her snatch an unexpected win. The race, mirroring the men’s E3 Classic route, culminated in three local laps in Bavikhove, where the climbs had already whittled down the leading group. Kopecky’s decisive move in the final 2km, with Human Powered Health unable to respond, led to her remarkable triumph, leaving Pikulik in second and Nooijen in third. This final edition of the race was marked by missed opportunities for Human Powered Health, despite their numerical advantage in the final selection.

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