Lotte Kopecky lives up to favourite status to become the 2023 World Champion

WORLD CHAMPION 2023 - Lotte Kopecky

Lotte Kopecky, the Belgian cycling sensation, displayed her prowess by securing a trio of gold medals at the World Cycling Championships. After stunning victories in the points and elimination races during the track segment, she emerged triumphant in the women’s road race in Glasgow, Scotland, solidifying her reign in the world of women’s cycling.

The race began under cloudy skies near Loch Lomond, spanning 154 kilometres to Glasgow. As the racers navigated their path, the sun broke through the clouds, illuminating the road to the finish line.

Early in the race, Switzerland’s Elise Chabbey took the lead with a solo run about 60 kilometres from the finish. However, she was later overtaken by powerhouse competitors including Demi Vollering, the recently crowned Tour de France Femmes champion. Yet, in a surprising twist, Vollering began to cramp, slowing her pace, allowing Kopecky and Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig to break away.

Kopecky, using her strength and strategy, eventually left Ludwig behind on a sharp uphill climb just 6 kilometres before the finish. Riding through Glasgow’s winding roads, Kopecky raced past her competition, managing to solo her way to the finish line with unmatched vigour.

The race saw several attempts to break away, with riders such as Lizzie Deignan of Great Britain showing significant enthusiasm. But it was the combination of the course and the determination of the riders that made the real difference. Many experienced crashes, bike changes, and other challenges – such as Netherlands’ Annemiek van Vleuten who faced multiple mechanical issues during the race.

Behind Kopecky, a fierce sprint battle ensued for silver. Uttrup Ludwig seemed to have secured second place, but Vollering, in a last-minute effort, outpaced her to snatch the silver medal, relegating Uttrup Ludwig to bronze.

Previously, Kopecky, the 27-year-old from Flanders, had been on the cusp of major victories, finishing fourth in the Tokyo Olympics road race and securing second place in last year’s world championships. However, this trifecta of wins at Glasgow firmly establishes her as a dominant force in women’s cycling. As she gears up for the Paris Olympics, she’ll be adorned in the coveted rainbow colours symbolising her championship victories.

Outside the spotlight of Kopecky’s magnificent win, the U23 women’s road race witnessed Hungary’s Blanka Vas securing gold. She managed to out-sprint Shirin van Anrooij and Britain’s Anna Shackley, finishing just over four minutes behind Kopecky. This race, part of the World Road Championships, highlighted both the seasoned elites and the rising stars of cycling.

WC23 - Elisa Balsamo
Elisa Balsamo

In Glasgow, the world witnessed a spectacular show of endurance, strategy, and raw power. Among them all, Lotte Kopecky shone the brightest, proving her mettle as the world’s top cyclist.

“After the two world titles on the track, I actually didn’t believe I could become world champion again today. It’s been a fantastic year, but also a very tough one. I’m not sure what kept me pushing on. This is a dream come true. I’m going to enjoy wearing the rainbow jersey next year. I wasn’t nervous before the race, but when Elise Chabbey had a lead of a minute and a half, I was.

I really have to thank Sanne Cant and Justine Ghekiere. They did great work in the local laps, ensuring Chabbey didn’t get too far ahead. I also need to thank my other teammates. We’ve shown that as a nation we can win big races.”

Lotte Kopecky

“When I’m in good form in a race, I ride better. Now, I can leave the World Championships stage with my head held high. It’s over. Yesterday there was a very special moment with the people from the KNWU. But I’ll keep going. My form is good, and I will race with pleasure. There’s no pressure then.

For me, [Kopecky] was the number 1 favourite. I’ve thought that since the Tour, and she also raced well on the track. She’s a very deserving world champion. We had to play our cards. If I could stay, it could have turned out differently.”

Annemiek van Vleuten

“I’m exhausted. I truly gave it my all. So, I’m pleased with the second place; Lotte was undoubtedly the strongest. She was consistently strong throughout the race and played her cards very well. Hats off to her. That was really frustrating. Otherwise, we could have made it more challenging for Lotte. She would’ve had to respond to both of us, and we could’ve done more.

As a team, we rode well. I’m happy we secured this second place. I hesitated there for a moment too long. That was a bit naive of me. I had to bridge the gap myself, but I was betting someone else would do it. However, Lotte caught me off guard with her speed; I was cramping hard while trying to close the gap.”

Demi Vollering

2023 Women’s World Championship Road Race

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