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Kopecky’s Manager Criticises Tactic as Historic Third Flanders Victory Slips Away

Lotte Kopecky

Lotte Kopecky missed a historic three-peat at the Tour of Flanders, finishing fifth after a tactical mishap on the crucial Koppenberg. Her team manager, Danny Stam, was outspoken about the mishap, suggesting that Kopecky’s decision to fetch her own refreshments was a critical error. “Where do you get it in your head to get your own food instead of leaving it to a teammate?!” he exclaimed, reflecting on the moment Kopecky dropped back to the team car. This move, according to Stam, was “too ridiculous for words.”

The race, battered by harsh weather, saw Kopecky and her SD Worx-Protime teammates falling short of expectations. Kopecky’s mishandling of her position before the Koppenberg was pivotal, as she admitted, “It was my own fault.” She also pointed out that being pushed aside just before the climb affected her positioning adversely. The world champion argued for the relocation of the Koppenberg deeper into the race to avoid such bottlenecks.

Stam’s frustration was palpable as he critiqued the team’s performance, emphasising the lack of aggressiveness compared to their rivals. He noted that the cold and rain were no excuses as the conditions were the same for all riders. Kopecky’s efforts to support teammate Demi Vollering post-Koppenberg were acknowledged, but the team’s strategy was already compromised.

The manager also highlighted Kopecky’s need to assert more command within the team, a lesson she seemed to have taken to heart in the post-race debriefing. Despite this, Kopecky’s resilience shone through as she managed a commendable recovery, maintaining a strong pace in the final kilometres. However, this effort was insufficient to bridge the gap to the leaders, cementing a fifth-place finish.

As Kopecky and her team look ahead to Paris-Roubaix Femmes, they are left to reflect on the missed opportunity at Flanders. With the unfortunate early race exit of teammate Marlen Reusser due to injury, the team faces additional challenges moving forward. Kopecky remains optimistic, focusing on recovery and setting sights on the upcoming Paris-Roubaix Femmes, a significant goal in her racing calendar.

This year’s Ronde van Vlaanderen leaves Kopecky and SD Worx-Protime with a mix of regret and resolve, underscoring the importance of tactical precision and team coordination in the pursuit of victory on cycling’s grandest stages.