Team SD Worx has ruled the Strade Bianche in recent years. The team had already won the Italian gravel race in 2015, 2016, 2018, 2021 and 2022. With outgoing winner Lotte Kopecky and Demi Vollering, the Dutch team also had two top favourites for this edition on Saturday March 4th. This dominance would continue with the team taking the top two podium places.
Team SD Worx opted for control. Kristen Faulkner set up a nice breakaway with a lead that increased to 1’45”. On the Strada di Colle Pinzuto, Demi Vollering unleashed her dominance. “The race plan was executed perfectly,” sports manager Danny Stam said. “At 18 kilometres from the end, Demi would attack and Lotte Kopecky would control. At the last ‘sterrato’, we would then evaluate whether Lotte would jump as well. That was necessary to catch Faulkner back.”
After this move, the two teammates Demi Vollering and Lotte Kopecky climbed the Via Santa Catarina in Siena together and the battle was decided in a millimetre sprint on the Piazzo del Campo. The jury had to study the finish photo for minutes before Vollering was declared the winner.
“Beforehand, you don’t dare predict such a scenario. That’s why there were no agreements. They sprinted for the win as mature riders. One and two in Strade Bianche, this is a dream day for the team,” said Danny Stam.
“It was exciting until the line,” winner Demi Vollering concluded. “Lotte and I are killers, we always go to the limit and over the limit. We appreciate that about each other. Neither of us knew who had won, so there were some emotions involved. Lotte said to me almost immediately at the finish – Ooh, I’m glad you won. We made it a super nice race and there are no hard feelings between us.”
Danny Stam added. “You can never predict that in Strade Bianche you will turn up the last corner as number one and two, so there were no agreements about that. Lotte and Demi are old and wise enough to make up their own minds. They sprinted for it as two winners. Had they not sprinted for the win, there would have been comments too. We rode a fantastic race with the team. This group hangs together well. In the first two spring Classics, we finish number one and two twice in a row. We won Omloop van het Hageland and a stage in the UAE Tour. So the results speak for themselves.”
Lotte Kopecky said after the nail-biting race, “The favour factor in this team is very big. I also don’t think we should say at a kilometre from the finish that one of the two should win. I think we then both have the right to go for our own chances. Of course it’s nice to win ourselves, but in the end the most important thing is that someone from Team SD Worx wins. I am very happy for Demi Vollering that she was able to add this race to her record. You see two happy ladies sitting here. This is the perfect season start for our team.”
Danny Stam agreed. “This is a dream start. We have to enjoy this as long as it lasts. The pressure is off for a while now, but that doesn’t mean we are satisfied, because we have two big Classics in. In cycling, everything starts again week by week. There are still very important races to come.”