UCI World Championships: Lotte Kopecky solos to rainbow jersey in Glasgow

Belgian lives up to favourite status with final lap attack, Vollering and Uttrup Ludwig finish on podium

Clock16:00, Sunday 13th August 2023
Lotte Kopecky (Belgium) celebrates winning the elite road race title at the Glasgow World Championships

© Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images

Lotte Kopecky (Belgium) celebrates winning the elite road race title at the Glasgow World Championships

Belgium’s Lotte Kopecky delivered on her overwhelming favourite status to win the women’s road race World Championships on Sunday, soloing to the line in Glasgow after an aggressive day of racing.

The Belgian attacked with Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Denmark) from a select group on the final lap, before dropping the Dane with an acceleration on the Scott Street climb with 5.5km remaining and pulling out a gap she held to the finish. Uttrup Ludwig finished third on the line, just pipped by a chasing Demi Vollering (Netherlands).

Elise Chabbey (Switzerland) had been away for almost all of the six laps around Glasgow, but was brought back just before the bell as a very select group of riders battled it out for the win.

This is Kopecky’s third world title of the Glasgow ‘super’ Worlds, having already taken two rainbow jerseys on the track, and Belgium’s first elite women’s race win since 1966.

“It’s already been an amazing year, and also a very hard year,” a tearful Kopecky said at the finish. “I don’t know what keeps me pushing. I don’t know what I was thinking, but it really means a lot to me. It’s a dream that comes true, and I really hope to enjoy riding in those rainbows next year.

“I thought after those two [wins] on the track, I thought it would be almost impossible to win again on Sunday. Becoming three-time world champion in just seven days, it’s too crazy for words I think.”

The 27-year-old was full of praise for her Belgian team, not least the efforts of Sanne Cant and Justine Ghekiere in controlling the risky move from Chabbey, but also for the achievement of delivering Belgium’s first female world champion on the road since Yvonne Reynders.

“We’re a big cycling nation, but in the women’s part of cycling in Belgium, we always came a little bit behind. I’m very proud that now we showed that we can also win the biggest races as a team.”

Behind those fighting for the elite win, Blanka Vas (Hungary) outsprinted Shirin van Anrooij (Netherlands) to win the under-23 title, finishing 11th in the elite field. Scottish rider Anna Shackley took the bronze medal.

An ever-changing race situation

Setting out from Loch Lomond, the women’s road race headed east and into Glasgow for six laps of the tricky city centre circuit and a total of 155km of racing.

In the opening kilometres of the race, a few riders tried to get away early on but it wasn’t until 20km had been completed that a move formed, and a very strong one at that. Lizzie Deignan (Great Britain), Juliette Labous (France), Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (South Africa), Sanne Cant (Belgium), Elise Chabbey (Switzerland), Blanka Vas (Hungary) and Mischa Bredewold (Netherlands) got up the road. However, as such a strong and therefore risky group, they were kept on a very tight leash and brought back quickly, with everything together once again with 110km to go.

The high pace set over the climbs between Loch Lomond and Glasgow had seen the peloton whittled down heading towards the city, and on the entrance to the circuit, the attacks started thick and fast. Leapfrogging a move from Kim Cadzow (New Zealand), early escapee Elise Chabbey was on the attack again, eking out a small group that included Liane Lippert (Germany) and Lotte Kopecky. With more than 90km still to go, though, there was some hesitation to fully commit to the move and things came back together, with more attacks and rotation following.

Switzerland were the most keen to get a move away, either with Chabbey or Marlen Reusser, whilst it was the Netherlands and Belgium who were trying to control things. With 75km, Chabbey attacked for the third time, this time getting a good gap - up to a minute and 40 seconds at its maximum - but the favourites didn’t sit back behind, with Kopecky herself almost always on or near the front of the chasing group.

With Chabbey still away with 40km to go, Belgium and the Netherlands started to organise on the front of the bunch to try and bring the Swiss rider back, a difficult task on the twisting and turning Glasgow circuit.

Trade teammates Kopecky, Vollering and Reusser were the main animators in the chase, going head-to-head on the toughest parts of the course to really test each other and try to fully close the shrinking gap to Chabbey. Defending champion Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands) went on the attack on the third-to-last lap, a tactical card in her final World Championships, forcing Kopecky and Lizzie Deignan (Great Britain) to bring her back on Montrose Street.

Heading into the last two laps, Chabbey was still ahead with a very elite group chasing, made up of Kopecky, Van Vleuten, Vollering, Uttrup Ludwig, Deignan, Reusser and Christina Schweinberger (Austria), now looking like the riders who would contest for the win and podium.

Chabbey was finally caught just before the start of the final lap, from which it became a 14km battle royale between a very select and very strong group of riders, just missing Van Vleuten who had dropped from the lead with a mechanical problem. Schweinberger kicked off the first round of attacks, taking Deignan with her and chased by Kopecky and Reusser, but again things were back together with 8km to go.

The decisive move came with 7km to go when Uttrup Ludwig accelerated off the front, initially alone but then joined by Kopecky. The Belgian then used the Scott Street climb with 5.5km remaining to go clear of Uttrup Ludwig, launching a blistering attack that the Dane simply could not match. She then used her strength to keep the pace high all the way to the line, winning with a seven-second gap, whilst Vollering just came around Uttrup Ludwig on the line to take second.

Race Results

1

be flag

KOPECKY Lotte

Belgium

4H 02' 12"

2

nl flag

VOLLERING Demi

Netherlands

+ 7"

3

dk flag

LUDWIG Cecilie Uttrup

Denmark

"

4

ch flag

REUSSER Marlen

Switzerland

+ 12"

5

at flag

SCHWEINBERGER Christina

Austria

+ 34"

6

gb flag

DEIGNAN Lizzie

Great Britain

"

7

ch flag

CHABBEY Elise

Switzerland

+ 1' 24"

8

nl flag

VAN VLEUTEN Annemiek

Netherlands

+ 2' 48"

9

nl flag

MARKUS Riejanne

Netherlands

+ 3' 51"

10

es flag

GARCIA Mavi

Spain

+ 4' 05"

Provided by FirstCycling

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