Determined to race at Nokere Koerse after the death of her brother last weekend, Lotte Kopecky was a huge presence all race in the Flandrian race. The Belgian made numerous moves off the front of the peloton, most of which came back but she still had enough left in the tank to make the crucial move when it mattered. The winner of Omloop het Nieuwsblad attacked on the Lange Ast and pushed home her advantage on Huispontweg, Kopecky never really looked like being caught by the peloton and crossed the finish line as the only rider in sight.
Raced over 129.1 kilometres and featuring repeated ascents of Lange Ast (400m at 5.2%) and the Nokereberg (400m at 5.7%) the peloton often split up and then clawed itself back together under pressure. No early breakaway meant it took a while for a group to go clear under the high pace set. It was on Vossenhol-Tiegemberg that a group did go clear, largely under the influence of Kopecky. Anna Henderson joined her and they initially got a gap of up to 40 seconds before a Trek-led peloton closed the gap with 40km to race.
SD Worx teased the peloton, firstly by an attack from Lorena Wiebes, then moves being marked at the front by Christine Majerus and Lonneke Uneken. Daniek Hengeveld did manage to get clear with 30km to go and was allowed a gap. Unfortunately, that move was brought to a close thanks to mud kicked up the convoy on the inside of the corner. The Dutch rider slid out into the barriers and whilst ok, that brought a close to her move.
The next rider to attempt to go clear was Aude Biannic. The French Movistar rider had a degree of freedom due to the injury to Emma Norsgaard that sees her not racing and the early drop from the peloton here of Sheyla Gutierrez. Biannic was given 20 seconds by the bunch and left to dangle just off the front. With just over 10km to go, Lotte Kopecky made her move and only UAE Team ADQ’s Eleonora Gasparrini was attentive enough to go with the Belgian. Kopecky set a hard pace and once caught up to Biannic just went through with the pair of riders now desperately trying to stay on her wheel.
The gap started to increase and alive to the danger Elisa Balsamo also attacked but was another to be claimed by the damp cobbles as she slid out on a corner herself. With Balsamo now behind the bunch and being led back by Shirin van Anrooij, that was an important engine missing from the chase which increasingly looked doomed to its fate.
Gasparrini and Biannic were unable to keep up with Kopecky’s infernal pace and had to let her go solo. Biannic was only caught on the final corner in Nokere as Lorena Wiebes launched her sprint to complete another 1-2 for SD Worx this season. Marta Bastianelli took 3rd place for UAE Team ADQ.
“Not much was going through my head during my solo. The past few days weren’t easy, but there’s no point in letting my head hang down and sitting at home on the sofa. Last week I decided to ride Nokere-Koerse, I didn’t want to deviate from that. Somehow it was nice to join the team on Tuesday, laugh a bit and try to think as little as possible about what happened. I am someone who needs to be able to take my mind off things. That worked out well.
I wanted to make the most of it today, I wasn’t thinking about winning beforehand. I didn’t want to spare myself today. That way I could still let myself off a bit. I was tremendously strong. I hope I was able to make my brother a bit proud.”Lotte Kopecky
2023 Nokere Koerse result
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