Women’s road race: Lotte Kopecky continues her dream season

After recently taking second in the Tour de France femmes avec Zwift, Lotte Kopecky continued her dream summer. The Belgian won the road race of the World Championships on the Glasgow circuit. She managed to escape an elite leading group along with the Dane Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig six kilometers from the finish. She then attacked on a steep climb a few moments later to go solo to the line. It was a huge performance from Kopecky, who started the day as the outstanding favorite after having taken 2nd in last year’s worlds road race. 

Before taking the victory, Kopecky had been put under pressure by the Dutch duo, Demi Vollering and defending champion Annemiek van Vleuten. With 35 kilometers to go, the latter accelerated to force Kopecky to ride, which had the effect of reducing the main group to seven riders, all of whom were chasing the Swiss Elise Chabbey who had broken away earlier. 

Victim of a mechanical problem at the start of the last lap, “AVV” was ultimately unable to play for the win. Teammate Demi Vollering pulled away to clinch second place, beating Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig in the sprint.

“This title means a lot to me, it’s a dream come true to wear the rainbow jersey,” Kopecky said with tears in her eyes. “After my two world titles on the track, I thought it would be almost impossible to win today. I thought it would be impossible to become world champion three times in seven days. It’s incredible.”

Like Remco Evenepoel in the men’s time trial (read below), Lotte Kopecky broke a curse by becoming the first Belgian world champion on the road for 50 years. And she is only the fourth Belgian women’s world champion after Nicole Vandenbroeck (1973), Marie-Rose Gaillard (1962) and Yvonne Reynders, winner four times (1959, 1961, 1963, 1966). The SD-Worx rider also won her seventh career rainbow jersey (six track titles).


Men’s time trial: Evenepoel reconnects with the rainbow

After winning the title in the road race last year, Remco Evenepoel (23) won the individual time trial of the World Championships around Stirling, north-east of Glasgow (Scotland) on Friday. Silver medalist in 2019 and bronze in 2021 and 2022, he is the first Belgian to win the title in the individual time trial.

“It’s very special, especially since I’m the first Belgian rider to win this title. From the first intermediate, I knew it would be a fierce battle with Ganna because I was already a little over my limit. But I had to take risks and keep this rhythm, even if I risked exploding, otherwise it would be lost in advance. Luckily, I had a great day, and I didn’t blow. My preparation for this championship was very hard, it required a lot of effort. I put in a lot of work during my altitude training camp. All that work paid off, so I’m happy. It was a fantastic day!”

Close to winning a third world title in the time trial after his victories in 2020 and 2021, the Italian Filippo Ganna had to settle for second place (+ 12 seconds). At only 19 years old, the British rider Joshua Tarling completed the podium (+ 48 seconds).

Having taken the silver medal in 2020 and 2021, Wout van Aert was among the favorites, especially following his second place in the road race last Sunday. Only 6th in the first intermediate time check, while the other title contenders had not yet passed that check point, he finished strong in the 800m cobbled climb concluding the course to clinch 5th place, more than 1’30” behind his compatriot.

The Swiss Stefan Küng, crowned world champion in the team time trial in the mixed relay on Tuesday, was also disappointed by finishing in 12th place (+ 2’17”), just behind the Norwegian title holder Tobias Foss (+ 2’04”). Frenchmen Bruno Armirail and Rémi Cavagna ranked 21st and 26th respectively.


Women’s time trial: Dygert’s revenge

It is difficult to find a more challenging route than that Chloé Dygert has had to travel in recent years. Since her first world title in 2019, Dygert has faced numerous major setbacks before finding success again at the foot of Sterling Castle, a 15th century building where several kings and queens of Scotland were born and died.

“A long Way of the Cross”, summed up the champion from Indiana who, at the start of the year, was not even certain she’d be racing again.

The misfortunes of Chloé Dygert, 26, began at the Imola Worlds in 2020 where she was defending her title in the time trial. She had the best split time when she slid around a corner and vaulted onto the other side of the safety rail. The images of this terrifying crash and the gaping wound in her left leg were broadcast around the world. After an emergency operation at the hospital in Bologna, she still had to have two more surgeries and her left leg is now three centimeters shorter, she explained on Thursday.

But her troubles were not over yet. In 2022, she was struck by the Epstein-Barr virus, before being operated on, this time on the heart, to treat tachycardia. “After the operation, I was sick for four weeks and when I started training again, I crashed almost immediately. I was only able to train seriously in March,” she explained in a hoarse voice.

Even in Scotland, not everything has gone smoothly for the eight-time world track champion who “caught a virus” in the velodrome this week in Glasgow. “I have been sick for five days. If the race had taken place yesterday, I would not have been able to start,” she said. “We made the decision to race only this morning.”

On the bumpy Scottish course, the American “gave everything” to stay five seconds ahead of Australian Grace Brown. She now succeeds Dutchwoman Ellen van Dijk, double defending champion who is pregnant and was absent this year. The Swiss Marlen Reusser, who came in as the main candidate for gold, stepped off her bike after about twenty kilometers citing mental exhaustion.


Upcoming races:

15-18 August: Tour du Limousin – Nouvelle Aquitaine, http://www.tourdulimousin.com

15-19 August: PostNord Danmark Rundt – Tour of Denmark, http://www.postnorddanmarkrundt.dk

15-19 August: Vuelta a Burgos, www.vueltaburgos.com/es/

17-20 August: Arctic Race of Norway, https://www.arctic-race-of-norway.com/fr

19-27 August: Tour de l’Avenir, https://tourdelavenir.com

20 August: Bemer Cyclassics Hamburg, http://www.cyclassics-hamburg.de