2023 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad – Race Report

How the race finished

Lotte Kopecky (Team SD Worx) took her first ever solo win at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, becoming the first Belgian winner of the Belgian cobble classic. Rounding out a great day for Team SD Worx, the chasing bunch was led home by Lorena Wiebes with Marta Bastianelli (UAE Team ADQ) in third.

Full results are available below.


How it happened

The first cobble classic of the season saw the women’s peloton race 132km from Ghent to Ninove. They contested five cobblestone sectors and eight climbs including the Molenberg, and the iconic finishing duo of the Kapelmuur and the Bosberg. With 2023 being the first time this race has been included in the Women’s World Tour, everyone on the start line was eager to play a part in this small slice of history. Despite the energy, the opening kilometres of the race moved at a slower pace than expected, with no break going clear and no single team keen to drive the peloton. It wasn’t until we approached the second half, where the cobbles and climbs studded the parcours, that the action really began. 

A group of 20 riders went clear just after Molenberg, including many of the pre-race favourites. Movistar and Team SD Worx were both well represented, but a number of other teams had missed out completely, and the peloton behind was motivated to bring the escapees back. As they reconnected, the pace went out, and on a small rise at around 27km to go Arlenis Sierra (Movistar) launched an attack. As she rode away, there was little reaction from the peloton behind, who still seemed content to maintain a leisurely pace, even as the gap extended to over 1 minute as they approached the Kapelmuur.

After the relatively relaxed race, it seemed likely that we would see a flurry of attacks on the Kapelmuur, but Lotte Kopecky (Team SD Worx) simply rode off the front, with only Pfeiffer Georgi (Team DSM) pushing hard to stay in her wheel.
Kopecky would later say she hadn’t meant to attack on the Muur – in fact, her ferocious pace had simply been too strong for anyone else to stay with her.

Out front, Arlenis Sierra continued to steadily wind up toward the iconic chapel. The chasing bunch was led by Elisa Longo-Borhini and Liane Lippert, but as they got out of the saddle as the road rose again, Kopecky was completely out of sight. Looking ever composed, Kopecky bridged across to Sierra, and the pair rode over the top, past the crowds at the Chapel, together. 

From the top of the Kapelmuur, with 16km remaining until the finish line, the Bosberg to contend with, and a gap hovering around 25 seconds, Kopecky and Sierra set off on a two up time trial, swapping turns to keep their speed rolling. Behind them, the bunch that had been broken up on the climb swelled again, as no one was quite sure who should be leading the chase. A front wheel puncture just before the Muur had taken world champion Annemiek van Vleuten out of contention, a real blow for Movistar who has played a tactically stellar race throughout, driving the moves with numbers and clear strategy. 

As the leading two approached the Bosberg, before the road really began to rise, Kopecky launched out of Sierra’s slipstream, quickly established a gap and held a strong tempo up the cobbled ramp. Over the top, she had a 40 second gap over the chasing bunch, which Sierra slipped back into. With her SD Worx teammates marking the front of the chase, Kopecky settled into a TT rhythm, finding herself out the front solo for the first time at the end of a race. Undeterred by the loss of their leader van Vleuten, Movistar rode hard on the front of the chasing peloton, hoping to bring things back together for their sprinter Emma Noorsgaard. After a while, UAE Team-ADQ also took turns on the front, but it was all too little too late. 

Kopecky sailed home to a solo victory, raising her arms as the first Belgian winner of the race, and as the first winner of the Omloop het Nieuwsblad in its new incarnation as a World Tour race. The bunch stormed home just 11 seconds behind, with Lorena Wiebes – who showed strong form on the punchy climbs as well – winning the sprint for second, followed by Marta Bastianelli. 


Full Results

Results powered by FirstCycling.com


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