“We were still in full control of the race, but in half a second the situation had completely changed. Suddenly we were behind and had to go full steam ahead. It was a situation that we were not able to rectify, which is why we are now disappointed,” said Lotte Kopecky honestly after her second place behind Elisa Longo Borghini.
In the run-up to the infamous cobbled section of Mons-en-Pévèle, Team SD Worx took control. Chantal van den Broek-Blaak raised the tempo, Lotte Kopecky added to it. Only Marta Bastianelli and Lucinda Brand were able to respond to the acceleration. “Lucinda didn’t go full speed and our goal was to put the other teams under pressure. I did my turn to keep the lead but also got the signal not to throw my strength too much.”
The leading group was caught and Trek-Segafredo immediately counterattacked. Elisa Longo Borghini attacked and Elena Cecchini and Marta Cavalli tried to jump in. However, they could not keep the wheel of the Italian champion. Soon, Longo Borghini had a half-minute lead. “In no time the situation was completely turned around,” said Kopecky. “We suddenly had to chase.” Van den Broek-Blaak and Kopecky tried to narrow the gap, but got no cooperation from the other riders. “That’s understandable because we were so dominant in all the previous races. Then you know the competition is leaving all the work to us,” said Chantal van den Broek-Blaak. In no time at all, the situation was completely reversed. Unfortunately, we could not close the gap. That is why the disappointment prevails
Kopecky: “The teammates of Longo Borghini did a good job of hiding. We tried to ride full speed, but couldn’t close the gap. That’s a shame, but Elisa was also strong today.”
After which Team SD Worx went full out for second place in the 2nd edition of the Hell of the North for women. “In the end, this was the highest we could achieve,” said Chantal van den Broek-Blaak. “We were dead broke. I had the idea we were in the race well and that everyone was doing their thing. We had it under control, until Longo Borghini went on the attack. Actually, there was nothing wrong, but we couldn’t close the gap. Then you can say she was just the strongest.”
With her second place in Paris-Roubaix, Lotte Kopecky ends her spring campaign as WorldTour leader. With victories in the Strade Bianche and the Tour of Flanders and now a second place in the Hell of the North, she can look back on the first months of the season with satisfaction. Although the Belgian champion did not want to dwell on that in Roubaix. “The disappointment dominates. My legs were good and we could have held the race in our hands. Unfortunately, it was not to be today.”