‘I knew I was the favourite’ - Lotte Kopecky delivers on World Championships pressure to win rainbow jersey

The Belgian powered away from her rivals to land road world title in the streets of Glasgow

Lotte Kopecky
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Lotte Kopecky said that the pre-race pressure of being labelled as the favourite for the elite women’s road race at the World Championships didn’t affect her once the race got underway.  

The Belgian stormed to victory in the streets of Glasgow with a powerful late attack which was simply unanswerable as the gruelling race took its toll on her rivals.

By landing the gold medal, she became the first Belgian woman since 1973 to win the world title.

Kopecky told the media, including Cycling Weekly, that after being labelled as the favourite at multiple other races this season - which she then won - the tag simply did not impact her.

“I knew I was the favourite before the race but I can't change anything about it,” she said. “So I can start to get stressed and that could get me into a downward spiral or something. But yeah, it's just how it is, it's not something that is the first time this year and the more you get into these situations, the better you can handle them.”

Earlier this year, Kopecky won both the Tour of Flanders and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in the spring. She also took second behind SD Worx team-mate Demi Vollering at Strade Bianche.

After wrapping up her Classics campaign she explained that she then rode some of the Worlds course in order to get a closer look at the Glasgow circuit. Kopecky said that her recon ride had confirmed to her that the race was very much one that suited her attributes as a rider.

“When I saw this course and did the recon at the beginning of May I just started to believe more and more in it,” she said. “So it's amazing to be in this shape for this World Championships and to go home with this gold medal.”

Kopecky’s late attack to seal the win came just before the tough Montrose Street climb. She said that once she had crested the steep ramp, she knew the rainbow jersey was in the bag.

“I was very nervous in the beginning when we had the climb and then on the descent towards the Glasgow lap you could feel the peloton was pretty nervous," she said. "It was also a bit dangerous but then once we were in the lap, I managed to hold the position pretty well in front.

“When I got over the last climb on Montrose street [I knew the race was won]... but that was pretty painful as the race was exhausting. Once I was over the final climb with about 1.6 kilometres to the finish, I knew I just had to stay upright and the gap would grow.

“It was not easy racing, but I was happy that at the end of the day I could manage the gold.”

Last year Kopecky went close to the rainbow bands in Wollongong, Australia but was ultimately beaten by a rampant Annemiek van Vleuten. She explained that her second place in Australia wasn’t on her mind in the closing stages of the women’s road race in Glasgow.

“I was not the strongest last year in the race, it was due to circumstance that I got into the position to race for the world title, then Annemiek attacked with a very smart move to take it.

"But today I felt really good and also felt like I was one of the strongest riders in the race.

“I really feel like I've earned this because of how the race was going tactically.”

Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1