Strade Bianche: Lotte Kopecky storms to victory ahead of Elisa Longo Borghini

Demi Vollering completes the podium to cap another day of domination for SD Worx Protime

Clock12:45, Saturday 2nd March 2024
Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx-Protime) wins the 2024 edition of Strade Bianche

© Getty Images

Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx-Protime) wins the 2024 edition of Strade Bianche

A day of explosive action across the Tuscan countryside saw a fourth win in a row for SD Worx-Protime on the white roads of Strade Bianche, and a second for world champion Lotte Kopecky.

The lengthened race saw multiple attacks from last year’s winner Demi Vollering, with Gravel World Champion Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon//SRAM) using the additional gravel sectors to her advantage.

But despite pressure from Lidl-Trek and Canyon//SRAM, the race-winning move came with 10km to go as Kopecky launched an attack, with only Elisa Longo Borghini able to stay with her.

The leading pair held off pressure from Niewiadoma and Kristen Faulkner (EF Education-Cannondale) and Kopecky sealed the win with an explosive attack on the Via Santa Caterina in which she was able to drop Longo Borghini and power to victory on the Piazzo del Campo.

"We were a bit more in control today. We played it really good as a team. I could have attacked Elisa Longo Borghini earlier but I did it at the right moment I think. I didn't have my best legs today but it's amazing to win Strade Bianche for the second time, especially with the rainbow jersey," the world champion said at the finish.

Dirt sectors break up the race

The characteristic white dust was absent from the Italian sterrato as dirt replaced gravel following rain the previous day, but conditions were dry as the women headed south from Siena for the 10th edition of the race.

An attritional start to the race meant that there were no early breaks, but rather a gradual process of thinning out, and over 100km had elapsed in the race before a strong breakaway group of eleven women finally detached from the rest. The group included the likes of European champion Mischa Bredewold (SD Worx-Protime), Neve Bradbury (Canyon//SRAM) and Lizzie Deignan (Lidl-Trek).

Not long after the break formed, Lotte Kopecky launched her first speculative attack on the first passage of the infamous Le Tolfe sterrato sector. Her acceleration caused a split in the bunch and a leading group of contenders pulled clear.

Meanwhile, at the front of the race, a break within a break saw three riders edge clear of the rest – Riejanne Markus (Visma-Lease A Bike); Amber Kraak (FDJ-SUEZ) and Alena Amialiusik (UAE Team ADQ). Kraak had already proven her ability to stay away from a powerful chasing group in the UAE and the peloton set to work reeling in the leaders.

SD Worx found themselves one short as Mischa Bredewold came down in a crash and with 30km remaining, the bunch caught up with Deignan and with the veteran Brit at the helm, Lidl-Trek took control of the chase, and caught the trio of escapees with 21.6km to go.

Quiet before the storm

A few kilometres of easement saw the pace drop as the leading teams took a look at one another, but the action all kicked off once again with 18km remaining as Demi Vollering moved clear, with Kasia Niewiadoma the only one able to stick with the Dutch champion’s injection of pace.

From there attack after attack resulted in gaps opening and closing and the lead changing hands several times. Evita Muzic (FDJ-SUEZ) tried her luck, but Vollering and Niewiadoma neutralised her before Elisa Longo Borghini flew over the top of and with Marianne Vos following, a leading quartet was formed.

Fenix-Deceuninck took their turn at the front of the race with Christina Schweinberger and Puck Pieterse catching and passing the leaders, but Kristen Faulkner bridged the gap, bringing the rest of the main contenders back in contention.

Heading onto the final gravel sector, Canyon//SRAM showed their hand, with Elise Chabbey launching, then a grimacing Niewiadoma taking over. She split the group to pieces but was unable to drop her main rivals, and with Kopecky now among the leaders, the final selection had been made.

With 10km to Kopecky attacked and Longo Borghini managed to go with her. It was the perfect situation for the Dutch team, with Vollering marking Niewiadoma in the chase, and when Shirin van Anrooij joined the group, the Gravel World champion found herself in a hopeless situation. Faulkner joined the trio and with just over 6km to go, a 20 second gap stood between the Italian and the Belgian, and the chasing group.

The gap held steady despite pressure from Faulkner, and as the leading pair approached the final in Siena the result seemed a foregone conclusion. The race came down to the World Champion and the Italian champion, with Kopecky stamping her authority on a race she has won twice, and finished second in last year to Demi Vollering, who rounded out the 2024 podium, beating Niewiadoma to the line in what was a heartbreaking day for the Polish rider.

Race Results

1

be flag

KOPECKY Lotte

Team SD Worx-Protime

3H 55' 43"

2

it flag

LONGO BORGHINI Elisa

Lidl-Trek

+ 4"

3

nl flag

VOLLERING Demi

Team SD Worx-Protime

+ 26"

4

pl flag

NIEWIADOMA Katarzyna

CANYON//SRAM Racing

"

5

nl flag

VAN ANROOIJ Shirin

Lidl-Trek

+ 40"

6

us flag

FAULKNER Kristen

EF Education-Cannondale

+ 41"

7

nl flag

MARKUS Riejanne

Team Visma | Lease a Bike

+ 1' 01"

8

ch flag

CHABBEY Elise

CANYON//SRAM Racing

+ 1' 54"

9

nl flag

VOS Marianne

Team Visma | Lease a Bike

"

10

fr flag

MUZIC Evita

FDJ-SUEZ

"

Provided by FirstCycling

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Provided by FirstCycling

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