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Julia Kopecky takes surprise win at Leiedal Koerse

Julia Kopecky 2023 Leiedal Koerse

The finish of Leiedal Koerse today definitely didn’t go as it was expected to for the final 30km or more. After attacking on the Paterberg and Oude Kwaremont, Human Powered Health found themselves in a dominant position with 4 riders in a group that initially had 7 riders and swelled to 9 with the catch made by a pair of Parkhotel Valkenburg riders. That held through the local loops and things looked nailed on for a sprint by Daria Pikulik for victory. However, a late attack by Julia Kopecky (no relation to Lotte) stunned the lead group and with Human Powered Health unable to respond and even looking around for assistance, the Czech rider took a famous victory. Daria Pikulik finished 2nd ahead of Lieke Nooijen in 3rd.

The Leiedal Koerse, the E3 Harelbeke race for women, only came into existence at UCI level last year but has traditionally been a long-running crit race around Bavikhove, just next door to Harelbeke. Taking on a similar parcours as the men’s E3 Classic, the women raced the reverse Paterberg/Oude Kwaremont combination before heading to Karnemelkbeekstraat and the Tiegemberg before heading to Bavikhove for 3 local laps. The hills did the damage they were expected to with only 7, and then 9 riders able to stick to the front of the race.

From the time gaps going through the finish line for the local laps, it was already clear that the race was going to be decided by the front runners. They were Lily Williams, Daria Pikulik, Jesse Vandenbulcke and Nina Buijsman making up the Human Powered Health bloc, with Julia Kopecky of AG Insurance NXTG U23, Monica Greenwood of DAS-Handsling Bikes, Olha Kulynych of Duolar-Chevalmeire and the pair of Parkhotel Valkenburg riders Lieke Nooijen and Kristie van Haaften.

The odd attack was launched but it looked like Human Powered Health had everything under control until Kopecky went with roughly 2km to go, sensing that this was her best chance of victory. They burnt 3 of their riders in the chase and a long sprint from Daria Pikulik couldn’t reach today’s winner. A result of 2nd, 7th, 8th and 9th with 4 riders in a group of 9 feels like a major missed opportunity to score some UCI points.

2023 Leiedal Koerse result

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