Lotte Kopecky: I’d rather win Paris-Roubaix than a third Tour of Flanders

Historic hat trick not the main focus for world champion as SD Worx-Protime head to race with multiple options

Clock22:19, Thursday 28th March 2024
Lotte Kopecky in full flight at Nokere Koerse, her lone win on the cobbles this spring

© Getty Images

Lotte Kopecky in full flight at Nokere Koerse, her lone win on the cobbles this spring

Defending Tour of Flanders winner and world champion Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx-Protime) has downplayed the importance of taking a third De Ronde title on Sunday, even suggesting that she would rather win next week’s Paris-Roubaix.

The current rainbow jersey has the chance to make history on Sunday, becoming the first woman to win the race three times and only the second rider ever to do it in successive years, but she revealed that this is not necessarily a key concern, despite her favourite status.

“I'm not really thinking 'I want to win this race three, four, five times' or whatever,” she told GCN and Cyclingnews on Thursday.

“At this moment I'd prefer to win Paris-Roubaix instead of winning the Tour of Flanders for a third time. But when people say this, a hat trick in the Tour of Flanders, of course, it would be really nice but it's not my biggest goal, let's say.”

Read more: Stat Attack – The history at stake at the Tour of Flanders

Despite Kopecky’s assertions, she – or at least her team – will head into Sunday's race as a clear favourite for the win. As is the SD Worx way, Kopecky will not be the sole, dedicated leader, with the likes of Marlen Reusser and Demi Vollering also in the team. Even a strong Lorena Wiebes is a realistic option for the win.

“We will be up against very strong teams, so in the end it's really about the team who wins, and not only me,” Kopecky said.

“We have conversations before the race about how we want to approach the race, but we don't know what the plans of other teams are, so of course we need to adjust to that as well. We will not start with just one leader, we will start with more, and everybody gets this opportunity.”

It may be surprising for the defending winner to not claim leadership in Flanders, but such is the strength and ethos at SD Worx that the Belgian is not expecting her teammates to ride just for her.

“It's not just to rely on them,” Kopecky said of her teammates. "For sure, Marlen also targeted this race, so I'm not really going to rely on Marlen to do everything for me, let's say. But riders like Mischa [Bredewold], or Marlen too, are perfect riders to have in the breakaway, so I think they need to race according to their qualities. That's the race on Sunday – it has a lot of opportunities for them.”

Read more: A beginner's guide to the Tour of Flanders

No concerns after Dwars door Vlaanderen disappointment

The only thing putting a small dent in SD Worx’s position as favourites is their defeat in Wednesday’s Dwars door Vlaanderen, looking uncharacteristically out of control and forcing Kopecky to use her own energy to bridge to the winning move. She ended up settling for fourth on the line, with her team admitting a lack of focus was partly to blame for the rare lack of podium result.

“I prefer it to be yesterday instead of Sunday,” she said about the relatively unsuccessful race. “We are all ready and awake now, we just need to be more sharp. I think after yesterday that was very clear.

“Sometimes it’s good that this happens before a very important race, that yesterday we were a bit annoyed or angry at ourselves and that keeps us sharp for Sunday.”

Read more: Dwars door Vlaanderen – Marianne Vos outsprints Shirin van Anrooij after an impressive ride

With SD Worx now beaten on a couple of occasions this year, largely down to efforts from Marianne Vos, Visma-Lease a Bike and Lidl-Trek, there is much talk about how those teams may carry a boost in confidence into Flanders. Kopecky, however, made her view on that clear.

“For me, it doesn't matter if they have a lot of confidence or not,” Kopecky said.

“I want to race on Sunday and then see how it goes, and in the end, it's the legs that speak. It's a long race, it's a hard race, so in the end, everybody comes at her place.”

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