SD Worx’s Lotte Kopecky took a commanding victory at this year’s Omloop het Nieuwsblad Women, finishing solo like Dylan van Baarle in the men’s Omloop. Surprisingly, Belgium has never had a home winner at Omloop het Nieuwsblad Women, despite being run since 2006. Going clear on the early part of the Muur, Kopecky powered onto the tougher, steeper cobbles and wasn’t caught by her rivals again.
Starting in Gent, the race took on 132km of Flandrian cobbles and bergs. There was no early break but the real riding took place starting from the Molenberg. The tough climb always creates a bottleneck as it winds around the mill capture forever in its name. A group of 17 riders, mostly top favourites went clear but were slowly reeled back in as fans waited for the race to go live on TV. Arlenis Sierra took the chance to make an attack and went clear.
As the peloton hammered it up the early slopes of the Muur van Geraardsbergen, Kopecky got a small gap. Only Pfeiffer Georgi was able to initially respond as the other teams couldn’t match the pace. It turned out that both Annemiek van Vleuten and Elisa Balsamo had suffered mechanicals in the kilometres leading up to that point and both Movistar and Trek Segafredo were in the process of reshuffling their deck.
Kopecky crested the Muur close to Sierra and they both pushed on towards the Bosberg. Behind them, the peloton was split into small chasing groups that gradually regrouped. Sierra was blown on the Bosberg as Kopecky accelerated and Liane Lippert tried to go clear on the steep, cobbled slopes. However, she was marked by Lorena Wiebes of SD Worx and had to give up that chase.
Despite the work of Movistar and then UAE Team ADQ teams, the gap never really came down too much, although it was hovering barely above 20 seconds with 2km to go. Possibly the old finish of Omloop het Nieuwsblad Women, slightly further down the road would’ve changed things but Kopecky had the gap covered to the line. Behind the Belgian, Lorena Wiebes was busy sprinting for 2nd place ahead of Marta Bastianelli, taking part in her last Omloop het Nieuwsblad Women.
“I had no intention of going. But no one could follow me, so I had to keep going. I had to keep going. That was tough, because I’ve never ridden such a long solo. I found it difficult to pace myself. I did well. Wiebes is clearly the fastest rider in the world. I’m fast, but not a top sprinter. When she came to our team, it was a sign for me to become a different rider. That is working out well now.”Lotte Kopecky
“I touched something. As a result, I had to change bikes quickly. If anyone other than the front goes full, you won’t be coming back. I wanted to test my legs today, but in the pursuit it’s something else. When I punctured, we went for the plan with Norsgaard. She is fast at the finish, so I tried to do my bit.”Annemiek van Vleuten about her mechanical
Main photo credit: Getty Images
2023 Omloop het Nieuwsblad Women result
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