2023 Tour of Flanders – Race Report

How the race finished

Lotte Kopecky (Team SD Worx) made it back-to-back wins at the Ronde van Vlaanderen, powering away solo while teammate Demi Vollering was the fastest of the chasing bunch, with Elisa Longo-Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) coming home in third.

Full results are available below.

How it happened

A cool, wet day set the scene for a long, attritional race characteristic of the Ronde van Vlaanderen, or Tour of Flanders. Kicking things off in Oudenaarde, the womens’ peloton raced over 156.6km to the finish line. Four riders tried their hand at an early breakaway but the peloton was not happy to let them go. Katrijn de Clercq (Lotto Dstny Ladies) succeeded for a short time with a solo break, but again the peloton reeled her back in. It was then very quiet in the bunch for the remainder of the first half of the race, with anticipation building for the steep pitches and cobbles of the second half. 

With 90km remaining to race, New Zealand champion Ally Wollaston (AG Insurance Soudal Quick-Step) made a strong solo attack into the base of the Wolvenberg, quickly establishing a small lead over the peloton, who once again appeared unconcerned. A crash in the lead in to the tight cobbled climb up the Molenberg held up a number of riders, including Floortje Mackaij (Movistar), in the first of a number of unlucky incidents for Movistar. 

Out front, Ally Wollaston continued to ride strongly, her gap hovering between 20 and 45 seconds at different parts of the course. This was the status quo for a good 30km, until a series of attacks in the peloton were finally initiated. A well timed counter attack meant that the pair of Elinor Barker (Uno-X) and Elise Chabbey (Canyon//Sram Racing) were able to join Wollaston at the front. For Movistar, a second unfortunate incident occurred just before the Koppenberg, when world champion van Vleuten was caught up in a small crash and required a bike change before she could get on the road again. 

With the peloton going full speed into the next series of climbs, the break were caught at the base of the Koppenberg. With the steep gradients and deep cobbles slippery from earlier rain, the riders struggled to keep traction. Near the top, Movistar had their third unfortunate event of the day, when Liane Lippert’s back wheel slipped out. With Liane so near the front, her slip caused nearly every other rider to come to a near stop, and suddenly riders were running and walking up the Koppenberg pushing their bikes. Only Marlen Reusser (SD Worx) and Silvia Persico (UAE Team AQD), who were  both ahead of Lippert, managed to ride away safely. Lotte Kopecky and Lorena Wiebes (both SD Worx), both on their feet behind, remounted their bikes and joined the front, making a quartet of riders with three from Team SD Worx. 

Behind the quartet, a chasing group formed with three Trek riders, while the third group on the road included the big names of Marianne Vos (Jumbo Visma), Cecile Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Suez) and Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (AG Insurance Soudal Quickstep). Over the next cobbled climb, Lorena Wiebes was dropped, and the quartet became a trio, holding a small margin of 20 seconds. Climbing once again, Lotte Kopecky turned up the pace on the front, and her final remaining teammate Marlen Reusser was also dropped. But Persico kept holding on, refusing give in to the SD Worx rider. 

At 28 km to go, with her teammates tiring, Shirin van Anrooij (Trek Segafredo) attacked the group behind, and was quickly followed by Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon//Sram Racing) and Demi Vollering (SD Worx). They bridged across to Marlen Reusser, while up front, Persico, who had been forcing Lotte Kopecky to do all the riding on the front, finally decided to do a turn. The chasing group brought the leading pair back into sight and it looked like the catch was imminent, but Kopecky attacked again on the Oude Kwaremont. Persico held on for the first few metres, but when her back wheel slipped out on the wet cobbles she lost her momentum and drive. Lotte Kopecky was solo, and by the top of the climb had built her lead over Persico to 30 seconds. 

In the chasing bunch, attacks started in earnest. Anna Henderson (Jumbo Visma) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek Segafredo) both tried, but were followed attentively by SD Worx riders. Kopecky rode the Paterberg solo to the cheers of the crowd. Van Anrooij, once again riding strongly in the chase group, made her way across to Persico on the Paterberg, with Kasia Niewiadoma and Demi Vollering following just behind. With the final climb of the day now complete, the chasers couldn’t get organised. One by one Marlen Reusser, Juliette Labous and finally Elisa Longo Borghini were all able to come back.

A strong head wind made the last kilometres hard going, but Kopecky was undeterred, raising her arms to claim back to back victories on home soil. In the chasing bunch, Demi Vollering had the fastest legs to take second, while Elisa Longo Borghini, who had been dropped and returned multiple times, somehow found the legs to take third on the day. 

Full Results

Results powered by FirstCycling.com

 

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