Clara Copponi's fighting spirit nets Women's Tour lead
French rider sprints to second place and overall lead ahead of crucial time trial
Clara Copponi (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) powered into the overall lead at The Women's Tour after finishing second to Amy Pieters (SD Worx) on stage 2 of the race.
The young French rider finished third on the opening stage and due to her consistency now sits at the top of the overall standings, tied at the same time as Pieters, with Sheyla Gutierrez (Movistar) in third at six seconds back.
"It's incredible. It's my second podium in a row at the WorldTour. It means a lot," a jubilant Copponi told the gathering journalists as they huddled near her after the podium celebrations and jersey presentation.
While some young riders – Coppini is just 22 – would be satisfied with their position at the top of the standings and judge that experience as a successful race, Coppini has her sights set on much loftier ambitions. On stage 1 she put in a blistering kick to take third, while on stage 2 she was part of a 10-rider move that escaped before the finish and eventually put 42 seconds into the main field.
"I hope to take a win during this week, so this isn't enough for me. I'm very happy with today and taking two podiums in a row but I want more. Today it was very hard out there, and very cold. I was cold all the race and there were lots of attacks."
Standing in Coppini's way isn't just the matter of a world-class field but also a 16.6km individual time trial starting and finishing in Atherstone. The course is relatively flat and suits power TT specialists but pacing will be key for the rider last out of the start house.
The young French rider readily admitted that racing against the clock wasn't her speciality, but her prologue speed is likely to ensure that she at least starts well. After that, she'll need to rely on her legs and her full-on determination to drag herself through to the finish.
"It's not my favourite discipline but I'll give my best and then we will see what happens. I'm ready to fight," she said.
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Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at Cyclingnews.com between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.