As World Champion and team leader at SD Worx-Protime, Kopecky could have avoided taking risks but she used her speed and bike skills to dive into the peloton to then lead out Wiebes. It was a moment of perfect teamwork.
“It was a big chaos in the fight before the final corner but I still had Lotte Kopecky and she made it perfect. She’s a great rider to have to help. I’m happy with how we work together,” Wiebes said after her victory.
Like most riders in the UAE Tour Women peloton, Kopecky was making her 2024 season debut. She has raced on the track but is using the warm weather of the UAE to lay some important foundations to the 2024 season.
In 2023 Kopecky won a second Tour of Flanders victory before a Tour de France Femmes stage win, six days in yellow, the points jersey and second overall. At the UCI World Championships in Glasgow she then won three world titles in the same week, taking the titles on the track in the Elimination Race and the Points Race, and then taking a hard-fought solo victory in the road race.
Kopecky found inspiration and determination after her older brother Seppe died suddenly and unexpectedly in March. He was 29 years old.
This season Kopecky wants more success. A win at Paris-Roubaix is a major goal, with the cobbled French Classic having eluded the Belgian rider thus far. Racing for Olympic gold on the track and roads of Paris will follow.
“2023 was an amazing season and I think for me the most important thing I have to take with me in the next season is to stay calm and not to start to expect that every race will be the same as last year because it will not be,” Kopecky said.
The UAE Tour Women is an early goal for Kopecky and her SD Worx-ProTime team. Wiebes could win the three sprint stages, while Kopecky will target the overall classification and Saturday’s decisive mountain fish atop Jebel Hafeet.
Kopecky showed her intentions during stage 1, attacking to try to split the peloton in crosswinds and then taking a bonus second at an intermediate sprint.
“I will try to win all the sprint stages and I hope Lotte can do well in the Jebel Hafeet climb. We will go for it as a team,” Wiebes said
Kopecky is looking to perform well, perhaps knowing that the results will follow.
“I’m looking forward to the Jebel Hafeet stage….