Lotte Kopecky stakes claim to being world’s best all-round cyclist with UAE Tour triumph

A first mountaintop win showed the depth of the Belgian’s skillset

Lotte Kopecky with the UAE Tour trophy in 2024
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Lotte Kopecky’s weekend victory at the UAE Tour Women put forward a strong case for her being cycling’s best all-round talent. 

The Belgian, world champion on the road and track, sealed the overall victory in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, after fending off some of the peloton’s strongest climbers on the 10km ascent of Jebel Hafeet the day before. 

Kopecky rode a unique race in the UAE. She guided SD Worx-Protime team-mate Lorena Wiebes to victories in the opening two stages, acting as the final cog in the lead-out train, before setting out for the leader’s jersey herself. On stage three’s tough ramps, she dropped Lidl-Trek’s Elisa Longo Borghini and Gaia Realini, a first-rate climbing duo, as well as Canyon Sram’s Neve Bradbury, to take the race lead.   

Rarely, if ever, do fans see a rider assume such diverse roles within a team, and excel at them all. 

“This is my first mountain victory ever. This is crazy,” Kopecky said after stage three. 

"I was very motivated. I felt the team had a lot of confidence in me and I had also studied the climb well in terms of the gradients. Of course I had hoped for this beforehand, but to live up to it… This is very good for confidence.

“On a climb, you can feel good one minute and practically explode thirty seconds later. That's why I wasn't thinking about the victory and just watched kilometre by kilometre how I felt.”

Lotte Kopecky in a black jersey winning on Jebel Hafeet

(Image credit: Getty Images)

On the fourth and final stage, a breakaway win for Amber Kraak (FDJ-Suez) halted an SD Worx-Protime clean sweep, but left Kopecky's lead unchallenged.

The world champion's victory at the UAE Tour, her second WorldTour stage race win after last year’s Simac Ladies Tour, followed a remarkable start to the season on the track. She earned two titles at the European Track Championships in January, taking them both in a tight 19-minute window.  

The 28-year-old will target medals in both the velodrome and on the road at the Paris Olympics this summer. Before that, though, her sights are on the Classics.

“My condition is obviously good,” she said in the UAE. “If you don’t have a certain level now, you won’t be there for the Spring Classics. The Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix are still far away, but I do think I’m well on track given the training build-up I’ve had and the training sessions that are still to come.” 

Sprint, mountaintop finish, cobbled one-day or bunch race on the track, Kopecky is proving she can do everything. A jack of all trades, and master of them all, too. 

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