Lotte Kopecky has completed runner-up at Gent-Wevelgem in every of the previous two editions and might be out to make the third time the allure on Sunday. Nevertheless, regardless of the consecutive podiums, the Workforce SD Worx rider is aware of she’ll need to bend the race in her favour if she’s to make it onto the highest step.
Kopecky made her Gent-Wevelgem debut again in 2015 in a windswept baptism of fireside for a 19-year-old, ending in the principle group six minutes down on the winner. She has steadily improved her outcomes, ending within the lead group in 2017, inserting sixth in 2019, after which runner-up the previous two years.
Within the late-season 2020 version, she was crushed by Jolien D’hoore in a small group dash, earlier than final 12 months shedding out to Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) from a a lot bigger bunch.
“I obtained two instances second already, so it is a race that fits me nicely,” Kopecky informed reporters this week on the Basic Brugge-De Panne.
Kopecky is aware of that victory will not come simply and that is partly due to the climate. Heat and calm situations have graced northern Belgium this week, which has been welcomed by nearly everybody, besides for many who need their racing as laborious as doable.
“A bit boring,” was Kopecky’s evaluation of Brugge-De Panne. She rallied her teammates into making an attempt to drive some splits within the uncovered plains of De Moeren however the wind was merely nowhere close to sturdy sufficient and the race ambled in direction of a bunch dash, the place she labored for Lonneke Uneken.
Gent-Wevelgem is one other race that may be ripped aside on a windy day but additionally see a bunch dash on a relaxed day. If the latter got here to cross, it is robust to see Kopecky out sprinting the likes of Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo) and Lorena Wiebes (Workforce DSM), the 2 quickest finishers within the peloton who’ve each contested Gent-Wevelgem sprints previously.
As she proved together with her victory at Strade Bianche, Kopecky has developed from a sprinter into way more of a climber and all-rounder.
“Lotte can win so many races as a result of she’s an all-round expertise. She has lot of velocity after actually laborious closing. That is her plus level,” SD Worx director Lars Increase informed Cyclingnews.
“Should you noticed her at Strade, that is a race with a whole lot of altitude metres, so she will be able to climb and she will be able to survive laborious parcours. Meaning she will be able to go a number of methods – she will be able to win alone and win in an enormous group, however ideally the ultimate may have been a tough one.”
Regardless of Sunday’s climate forecast, Kopecky can take coronary heart from the modifications to the route for the 2022 version of Gent-Wevelgem, which appears to have been geared in direction of riders of her ilk. Nearly 20 kilometres have been added to the gap, with a go to to De Moeren – a key flashpoint of the boys’s race – and ascents of each side of the Kemmelberg launched for the primary time.
“Ultimately, it would not appear like there might be a lot wind. However we’ve two instances up the Kemmelberg and in addition the steepest aspect of the Kemmelberg. I hope the race could be made more durable there,” Kopecky stated.
“You additionally need to be alert all the way in which till the end as a result of if there’s some wind within the final 20 kilometres, a whole lot of riders could be dropped already.”
Increase confirmed that SD Worx would proceed to play their multi-card method that has served them so nicely within the Classics over time. The indication from Wednesday was that Uneken might sit again and anticipate a bunch dash, whereas riders like Chantal van den Broeck-Blaak and Marlen Reusser look to tear up the race from vary.
As for Kopecky, she would not sound eager to race too conservatively and can absolutely go for broke on the ultimate ascent of the Kemmelberg.
“If I begin the race with emotions of revenge after these second locations? No, by no means,” she stated. “The Tour of Flanders stays my major purpose, but when I get the prospect to lastly win Gent-Wevelgem, I’ll actually not miss out on it.”
SD Worx for Gent-Wevelgem: Elena Cecchini, Lotte Kopecky, Christine Majerus, Marlen Reusser, Lonneke Uneken, Chantal van den Broeck-Blaak.