Lotte Kopecky & Team SD Worx have opened the Classic season in victorious style. Lotte Kopecky beautifully made history by becoming the first Belgian woman ever to win Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in her home country. She rode strongly up the Muur van Geraardsbergen, before going solo after the Bosberg and riding to victory after an impressive twelve kilometres alone in the lead. Lorena Wiebes completed Team SD Worx’s one-two punch by winning the sprint just as dominantly to secure second place. “This one goes very high on my list,” said Lotte Kopecky after her victory in her first road race of 2023.
“It’s nice to make history by being the first Belgian woman ever to win the Omloop,” said Kopecky. “I did surprise myself a bit. It wasn’t really my intention to attack already on the Muur van Geraardsbergen. I had never ridden solo like this before, so it was searching how to distribute my forces and what power I could maintain until the finish line. I only looked at my power meter when we turned right after the Muur and then I got the confirmation that it was fine. Team SD Worx was on target. With Team SD Worx we decided it was national-pitch-all-in-the-fire day,” Kopecky admitted with a laugh.
“The arrival of Lorena Wiebes allows me to race more freely. If I go full on the attack, I know she is still behind to finish it off. Look how she won the sprint today, completing the one-two. I was really impressed with Lorena today. She was super strong on the climbs. We are going to be able to help each other a lot this spring. Within Team SD Worx everyone hangs together well. We are in good shape. We all know it’s give and take in this team. It’s great to start the Classic spring like this. This gives a lot of confidence for what’s to come. Also for the Strade Bianche, yes. I’m going to Tuscany full of confidence. That’s no guarantee I’ll win, but we’ll be at the start with a super strong block.”
Lorena Wiebes was equally as delighted with her second place. “This is the perfect way to start the season. Now it feels like the cycling year has started. It’s special to ride for Team SD Worx. I already felt it at the start line. Because you start with such a strong block, you just ride more relaxed in the peloton. It gives confidence. On the first hill, we were unlucky. Demi Vollering crashed, so we were only just back for the Wolvenberg. That meant we didn’t start in the best position, but we were still able to move up. Towards Molenberg, Elena Cecchini fell, but we still came through well. Christine Majerus and Elena Cecchini then guided us in perfect position towards the Muur van Geraardsbergen, after which Lotte went and we didn’t see her again. I am happy about how I survived the climbs and that I was able to finish the one-two in the sprint. I’m already looking forward to the next races.”
Team manager of Team SD Worx, Erwin Janssen reiterated Wiebes’ sentiment. “This is the perfect start to the Classic spring,” he said. “We have a Belgian main sponsor with SD Worx. Then it is wonderful to write history as a team with Lotte Kopecky becoming the first Belgian ever to win Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. We were ready for it, but a first Classic like this is always extra exciting. The way we won today, playing the tactical game as a team, makes this victory and second place very special. It may be cliché, but the first blow is worth a tenner. When you immediately grab that first chance for an important win, it gives a lot of confidence and boosts the team spirit. So this is very valuable going forward.”
“It was also nice to see how happy the Belgian fans were. I am immensely proud. It was the first time that Lotte Kopecky, Demi Vollering, Lorena Wiebes and Marlen Reusser started together. Elena Cecchini and Christine Majerus provided wonderful work as road captains. The staff also played an important role. When you see what they have done over the past three months to get the team ready, that should be emphasised. There is a certain calmness about this team. This win in the Omloop was a brilliant achievement. We showed what we are capable of this season.”
Sport director Lars Boom praised his team’s ability to anticipate and react during the race. “Our plan was to ride aggressively. Due to circumstances in the race, we did have to adjust the timing of the attack. It is important that we immediately grab the first opportunity for that first big win. When you come to the start with these six top riders, everyone expects this from Team SD Worx. But to then live up to it that way… That makes us very satisfied. It’s always nice when you can take place one and two. Lotte Kopecky and Lorena Wiebes are going to have a lot of fun together. It also makes our team stronger because we can play even more different cards. On to the sequel!”