Lotte Kopecky successfully defends Tour of Flanders title as SD Worx claim 1-2

With number one on her back, the Belgian won her third Classics race this spring with a powerful show of strength

Lotte Kopecky
(Image credit: getty)

Lotte Kopecky won her second successive Tour of Flanders as SD Worx’s phenomenal spring Classics campaign continued with yet another win.

Kopecky came good on her favourite status by animating the race in the final 50km and finally shaking Silvia Persico of UAE-Team ADQ off her wheel on the day’s final ascent of the Oude Kwaremont.

With two SD Worx riders controlling the chase group behind, Kopecky was able to build a substantial lead and she crossed the line in Oudenaarde 36 seconds ahead of the chasing group to defend her title after beating Annemiek van Vleuten a year earlier.

Her teammate Demi Vollering won a seven-rider bunch sprint for second, with Persico just missing out on third place to former race winner Elisa Longo Borghini of Trek-Segafredo. 

Victory for Kopecky means that SD Worx have now won seven of the spring Classics, with Kopecky previously winning Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Danilith Nokere Koerse. 

She is only the second female rider to win the race in consecutive editions, following in the footsteps of Dutchwoman Mirjam Melchers won won in 2005 and 2006.

How it happened

Just like in the men’s race earlier in the day, the women seemed reluctant to let a breakaway go, and it wasn’t until around 85km to go that Ally Wollaston of AG Insurance - Soudal QuickStep was able to jump off the front and be permitted a small lead. After 30km solo, the Australian was then joined by Elinor Barker (Uno-X) and Elise Chabbey (Canyon-Sram).

As the Koppenberg approached at the 46km marker, Annemiek van Vleuten fell to the ground. The world champion remounted after refitting her chain, but the Dutchwoman was forced to chase at the worst possible time with attacks about to start at the front.

The leading trio were caught just before the Koppenberg, and SD Worx blew the race apart on the steep cobbles, with Marlen Reusser, Lorena Wiebes and Kopecky cresting the climb together along with Persico of UAE-Team ADQ. 

Onto the Taaienberg and Weibes was dropped, but Reusser and Kopecky looked in fine fettle. That was until the Kruisberg when an acceleration from Kopecky caused carnage: first, Reusser was dropped, with Persico the only able to keep pace, while behind the chase group fractured. Kopecky and Persico’s lead had trebled to 30 seconds as result of their attack on the climb.

Ahead of the final ascents of the Kwaremont and Paterberg, the duo had a lead of 25 seconds. The moment they turned onto the former, Kopecky attacked and Persico was unable to follow the Belgian.

Within a minute Kopecky was driving towards a second successive win, her lead stretching from a few seconds to a whopping 50 seconds before she tackled the final climb of the day, the Paterberg.

Up and over the cobbled berg, Kopecky went into time trial mode to ensure that she arrived into Oudenaarde with plenty of time to spare, while the second group of the road - that contained two of Kopecky’s SD Worx teammates, Vollering and Reusser - grew to six towards the finish.

Kopecky was able to coast across the line, with Vollering jubilantly celebrating winning the sprint for second, and Borghini just pipping Persico to third.

Results: Tour of Flanders (157km)

1. Lotte Kopecky (Bel) SD Worx, in 4-06.11
2. Demi Vollering (Ned) SD Worx, at 36s
3. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
4. Silvia Persico (Ita) UAE-Team ADQ
5. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol) Canyon-Sram
6. Juliette Labous (Fra) Team DSM
7. Marlen Reusser (Swi) SD Worx, all at same time
8. Shirin van Anrooij (Ned) Trek-Segafredo, at 44s
9. Anna Henderson (GBr) Jumbo-Visma, at 2-40
10. Arlenis Sierra (Cub) Movistar, at 3-38.

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Chris Marshall-Bell

Chris first started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2013 on work experience and has since become a regular name in the magazine and on the website. Reporting from races, long interviews with riders from the peloton and riding features drive his love of writing about all things two wheels.

Probably a bit too obsessed with mountains, he was previously found playing and guiding in the Canadian Rockies, and now mostly lives in the Val d’Aran in the Spanish Pyrenees where he’s a ski instructor in the winter and cycling guide in the summer. He almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains.