In a gripping queen stage of the Simac Ladies Tour, Lotte Kopecky showcased her mettle, seizing victory atop the iconic Cauberg climb. Kopecky’s performance further consolidated her overall lead in the tour standings. The peloton tackled a demanding 131km course through South Limburg, replete with well-known ascents from Amstel Gold Race such as the Geulhemmerberg and the Bemelerberg. From the start, it was evident that riders were determined to mark their dominance, with numerous attempts to break from the main group. However, the vigilant peloton swiftly reeled in every move, ensuring no group gained a significant lead.
A major upset occurred at the 63km mark, where a crash rattled the peloton, resulting in Riejanne Markus and Lucinda Brand’s untimely exit from the race. The final 55km saw intensified race dynamics as Annemiek van Vleuten sparked the race, accompanied by Kopecky and Katarzyna Niewiadoma. Their small group was later joined by others, including Pfeiffer Georgi and Lorena Wiebes.
In a strategic move, Niewiadoma and Georgi launched an attack 50km from the finish, establishing a promising lead. However, their advantage dwindled post the first Cauberg climb, largely owing to the efforts of SD Worx. As the duo were caught, a new front-running group emerged, with Francesca Barale, Jelena Eric, and Elena Cecchini among them.
However, the drama didn’t end there. Upon the second Cauberg passage, the leaders’ advantage evaporated, primarily attributed to Kopecky’s forceful acceleration. The following kilometres were marked by various attack attempts, but SD Worx’s vigilance ensured Kopecky remained in a favourable position. Floortje Mackaij’s audacious solo attack 5km from the end kept viewers on the edge of their seats, though ultimately, she was overcome by the unstoppable trio of Niewiadoma, Wiebes, and Kopecky on the final ascent of the Cauberg.
The day belonged to Kopecky, who launched her sprint with unparalleled vigour, taking victory and further solidifying her lead. Her teammate, Wiebes, clinched second, showcasing SD Worx’s dominance on the stage. Niewiadoma secured the third spot on the podium. In post-race interviews, Niewiadoma effusively praised her team’s strategy, citing her elation at their aggressive approach. Zoe Bäckstedt, who showcased her prowess by defending the white jersey and being awarded the day’s combativity prize, echoed Niewiadoma’s sentiments.
Meanwhile, a contented Wiebes hailed her finish atop the Cauberg as a personal victory, even likening her elation to that of winning. With her sights set on the upcoming European Championships in Drenthe, she remains optimistic, drawing confidence from her Limburg performance.
2023 Simac Ladies Tour Stage 4 result
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Main photo credit: Cor Vos