Lotte Kopecky takes the sprint win at a crosswind hit Vuelta Burgos opening stage

The Belgian champion extends SDWorx's period of WorldTour dominance after delivering a dominant performance

Lotte Kopecky (SDWorx) wins stage one of the 2022 Vuelta a Burgos Feminas
(Image credit: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty)

Lotte Kopecky finished off a consummate performance with sprint victory at the opening stage of the Vuelta Burgos on Thursday. 

The Belgian champion launched her sprint with 150m to go, instantly opening a gap and crossing the line around 10 bike lengths ahead of Tereza Neumanova (Liv-Xstra). Emma Bjerg (Movistar) finished third at the end of the crosswind ravaged race.

Helped by wearing the purple jersey of the WorldTour leader, the Belgian champion remained hidden throughout the day, only venturing near the front as the race reached its conclusion.

In her first race since Paris-Roubaix on April 16, Kopecky surfed the wheels in the final kilometres, sitting just behind Canyon-SRAM, and maintaining position when DSM came through. The final lead out was executed by Canyon-SRAM, Kasia Niewiadoma taking what was left of the peloton into the closing 200m, but Kopecky was in the perfect position for the victory, with no one able to get near.

The win comes just days after Demi Vollering won all three stages and the general classification at Itzulia Women, and extends a period of WorldTour dominance for SDWorx. Though they suffered the late withdrawal of Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, in Vollering, Niamh Fisher-Black and Scottish rider Anna Shackley they have the strength to continue their winning ways when the race heads to the mountains later in the week. 

How it happened 

The Vuelta Burgos Feminas is another new race, not only at Women’s WorldTour level but overall. Its first edition was in 2019, the four day 2.1 event held as a precursor to the now defunct Emakumeen Bira, though even that first edition attracted praise for its organisation from teams.

While the 2020 race was, like so many others, lost to the pandemic, last year’s race was promoted to the WorldTour and as such attracted the world’s best, culminating with one of the few head-to-head battles between Annemiek van Vleuten and Anna van der Breggen.

Neither of these Dutch riders was on the start list this year, Van der Breggen supervising SDWorx from her sports director, while Van Vleuten suffered a training injury and is absent from what is an important race for her Movistar team.

With just one classified climb coming early in the 121.9km opening stage between Pedrosa del Príncipe and Aranda de Duero, Thursday’s race was always likely to end in a bunch kick, and a breakaway was allowed up the road soon after the flag dropped.

Lara Vieceli (Ceratizit-WNT), Matilde Vitillo (BePink) and Andrea Ramirez (Massi Tactic) headed up the road and crested the classified climb after 25km 1-45 ahead of the peloton. This allowed the race to settle.

However, even before the race reached its halfway point the leaders’ advantage began to diminish, and they took a lead of less than a minute into the final 50km, the bunch steadily grinding them down.

Some 13km later with the gap less than 20 seconds, Ramirez decide to go it alone, attacking her breakaway colleagues and increasing her lead on the peloton back out to 40 seconds while the other two were caught. The Mexican rider didn’t last long though, and she was caught after six kilometres alone, the pace in the bunch lifting ahead of a stretch of crosswinds.

These crosswinds detached a group of around 25 women, including not only the entire Human Powered Health squad, but also Pauliena Rooijakkers. The Canyon-SRAM rider had begun the race as one of the favourites for the overall after finishing second overall at Itzulia last week and winning Tuesday’s Durango-Durango.

In a remarkable show of strength, and with a little help from team mate Alena Amialiusik,  Rooijakkers bridged across to the leading group, getting back on just as a series of attacks in that group lifted the speed.

Shortly after, a brief easing in hostilities saw the bunch re-form, but some teams were intent on using the conditions to break the race up, and Rooijakkers was dropped again, though once again rejoined the peloton exactly 10km from the line. Complete again the team went straight to the front, taking control the pace and keeping the Dutch rider in position and leading all the way into the final 200m.

Result Vuelta Burgos Feminas, stage one: Pedrosa del Príncipe - Aranda de Duero (121.9km)

1. Lotte Kopecky (Bel) SDWorx in 3-21-49
2. Tereza Neumanová (Cze) Liv-Xstra
3. Emma Bjerg (Den) Movistar
4. Tamara Dronova (-) Roland Cogeas Edelweiss
5. Soraya Paladin (Ita) Canyon-SRAM
6. Floortje Mackaij (Ned) DSM
7. Nina Kessler (Ned) BikeExchange-Jayco
8. Amalie Dideriksen (Den) Trek-Segafredo
9. Marie Le Net (Fra) FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope
10. Eleonora Gasparini (Ita) Valcar Travel and Service all at same time 

General classification after stage one 

1. Lotte Kopecky (Bel) SDWorx in 3-21-49
2. Tereza Neumanová (Cze) Liv-Xstra
3. Emma Bjerg (Den) Movistar
4. Tamara Dronova (-) Roland Cogeas Edelweiss
5. Soraya Paladin (Ita) Canyon-SRAM
6. Floortje Mackaij (Ned) DSM
7. Nina Kessler (Ned) BikeExchange-Jayco
8. Amalie Dideriksen (Den) Trek-Segafredo
9. Marie Le Net (Fra) FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope
10. Eleonora Gasparini (Ita) Valcar Travel and Service all at same time 

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Owen Rogers is an experienced journalist, covering professional cycling and specialising in women's road racing. He has followed races such as the Women's Tour and Giro d'Italia Donne, live-tweeting from Women's WorldTour events as well as providing race reports, interviews, analysis and news stories. He has also worked for race teams, to provide post race reports and communications.