Lotte Kopecky’s 2023 season couldn’t have gone much better: It started with a win at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad followed by a second Tour of Flanders victory before a Tour de France Femmes overall podium and culminated in three world titles in the same week at the UCI World Championships in Glasgow.
Speaking to the press ahead of the 2024 season, Kopecky is pragmatic about the probability of repeating her previous successes: “I think it 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,” she says.
Her aim, she says, is to enjoy racing in the rainbow jersey and “choose my moments to get in the right shape and maybe pick a little bit more the races I want to be good at.”
The 28-year-old will begin her season at the second edition of the UAE Tour Women in two weeks before focusing on a targeted Classics campaign which sees her sights set on a Flanders-Roubaix peak.
“Last year, I managed to get actually on a very high level through the whole spring but now I [will] try to maybe peak a little bit later, more in the period of [Tour of Flanders], Paris Roubaix, Amstel, Liège,” she explains. “Because if you are already at the real top of your game in Omloop then it’s hard to keep this form for two months. So yeah, I took things a little bit easier this winter, to get on my best form in the beginning of April and try to hold it the whole month.”
A win at Paris Roubaix is the goal, with the cobbled Classic having eluded the Belgian rider thus far. The unprecedented dynamic of the 2023 edition as well as bad luck in the form of crashing meant that she missed out in 2023.
“You cannot really predict those races before,” she reflects. “It’s really how the day goes. Last year was really special for women’s cycling, I think we had a break of like 17 riders, more or less. That’s something we do not see often. For sure not in a classic race. So yeah, we just have to be prepared for all scenarios.”
Although the Hell of the North is clearly a target for the Belgian she is reluctant to put pressure on herself for the one-day Classic:
“It’s a race I just really like. I mean, it’s fighting through to every cobbled section. It’s also… your weight doesn’t matter at all. I mean, not like other races. It’s also the kind of efforts I really like and it’s just a heroic race. It’s a very cool race and I just hope I can win…