Lotte Kopecky to be celebrated with fan day in Flanders

World champion hopes to encourage more women and girls in Belgium into cycling

Clock12:00, Thursday 28th September 2023
Lotte Kopecky will be celebrated in Gent on Saturday, September 30

© Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images

Lotte Kopecky will be celebrated in Gent on Saturday, September 30

Road world champion Lotte Kopecky will be celebrated with a special ‘fan day’ in Gent this weekend, marking her achievements at the World Championships and Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, as well as encouraging young cyclists into the sport.

Organised in collaboration with team sponsor SD Worx, Cycling Vlaanderen and the Flemish Cycling School, the day will feature a ride with a group of children aged eight to sixteen, an on-stage presentation to honour Kopecky, a meet and greet, and other cycling-based activities.

It isn’t just meant to be a day of fun, though, but a chance to build upon the spotlight that Kopecky’s achievements have shone on women’s cycling in Belgium, and help inspire the next generation of racers.

“With the initiative, the three parties and Lotte Kopecky hope to inspire young girls to also start cycling. Because a higher intake ensures sustainable growth of women's cycling in the long term,” Team SD Worx said about the event.

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Cycling fan culture has deep and broad roots in Belgium, where the top male riders often have their own fan clubs, sportives and similar fan-oriented celebrations, but previously the relatively small contingent of Belgian female professionals have not always enjoyed such fervent support.

However, tracing back to when she won the Tour of Flanders in 2022 and most recently her road world title - the first for a Belgian woman in over 50 years - Kopecky has rocketed into the top echelons of Belgian cycling, and this fan day is testament to the high regard in which she is held in Belgium.

After winning the rainbow jersey in Glasgow, the impact of her achievement and what it meant for women’s cycling in Belgium was not far from her mind.

"Belgium is a great cycling nation, but the women always limped along behind,” she said after the race. “I hope I made everyone proud. And that I have been able to inspire a lot of young girls.”

The impact she’s had has been tangible. In April 2023, even before her exploits at the Tour de France Femmes and the World Championships, Cycling Vlaanderen revealed the impact of the since-nicknamed ‘Kopecky Effect’.

Anne-Laure Gheerardyn, the coordinator for women’s cycling at Cycling Vlaanderen, told Het Laatste Nieuws that four times as many junior women (15-19 years old) had registered for racing licences in 2022 compared to the figures in 2019.

Having a Belgian woman win the biggest races in the world, as well as the gap-closing initiatives from Flanders Classics around coverage and prize money for their events, has surely been a significant part of this growth in what is, on the men’s side, a rich cycling nation.

In Gent on Saturday, Lotte Kopecky’s contribution to this and her impressive achievements will be deservedly celebrated as she cements herself as one of Belgium’s greatest cyclists – man or woman.

To read more of our coverage about women's racing, head to our dedicated women's section.

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