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Lotte Kopecky takes opening stage of 2023 Tour de France Femmes


Belgian champion Lotte Kopecky has claimed her first yellow jersey at the Tour de France Femmes after taking a brilliant victory in the opening stage at Clermont-Ferrand. The SD Worx rider launched a breakaway on the final climb, the Côte de Durtol, and was the first to cross the finish line. “On the final climb, I felt I had something left,” Kopecky said after the race. “I thought someone was going to follow me, but that didn’t happen.”

Kopecky confessed that wearing the yellow jersey had been a long-held ambition. “I’ve had the yellow jersey on my mind for a long time,” she said. “I’ve been joking with friends for weeks that it was time to get yellow.” She was grateful for the opportunity to take her chance.

Her SD Worx team also boasts pre-race GC favourite Demi Vollering and sprinter Lorena Wiebes. The team had two strategies according to Kopecky. They would either support Wiebes if she managed the climb, or Kopecky herself could take her chance. Wiebes did not disappoint, sprinting to second place behind Kopecky. “It’s been a great year for the team. We’re super strong and it’s great to race like this,” the Belgian rider said.

The race, officially known as the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, began at 12:30 in Clermont-Ferrand, with a largely flat stage of 123 kilometres. The only significant obstacle was the Côte de Durtol, located 10 kilometres from the finish.

The peloton kept a solid pace throughout the race, despite some early attempts at breakaways and a few crashes. As the race approached the hilly region, nervousness increased and more attempts were made to break away, but all were quickly thwarted. On the final climb, Kopecky broke away from a group of twenty riders just below the summit, grabbing the first mountain jersey. The Belgian champion then extended her lead in the descent and won the stage.

SD Worx made a strong start to the Tour de France Femmes. “Such a one-two is never to be planned, but it happens quite often,” said Demi Vollering, who finished sixth. “We did very well, we were really dedicated. The whole team worked hard to keep us safe.”

Not every GC rider had a successful day though, with the likes of Giro Donne runner-up Juliette Labous, Claire Steels, Riejanne Markus and Silvia Persico all losing some time.

The Tour de France Femmes continues on Monday with a stage from Clermont-Ferrand to Mauriac, where riders will face six categorised climbs.

2023 Tour de France Femmes Stage 1 result

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Main photo credit: Getty Images