The celebrations that came for the medallists at the Tokyo Olympic Games were nowhere to be seen for Belgium’s Lotte Kopecky, with the cyclist who competed on the road and track saying that tears and feelings of failure instead dominated.
In her second Olympics, the 25 year old was expecting more. She was ever so close to the medals in an unpredictable road race with fourth and, while she expressed disappointment with that placing at the time, the track racing on the Izu Velodrome would present an even bigger challenge. First came tenth place in the first ever Olympic women’s Madison, where Kopecky and her partner Jolien D’Hoore were among the favourites after becoming world champions in the event back in 2017. Kopecky was caught up in one of the many crashes and the Belgians also lost a lap, to drop 20 points and any chance of a high finish.
“We failed our Olympic dream together. That's all I (or we) can say about today,” said Kopecky after the mid-week event in an Instagram post. ”We did everything in our power to be here, ready to fight for that medal! We didn't succeed. Still, after today's Madison when you ask me would you've done something different towards this Olympics? I would say No, Not at all.”
There was, however, more to come. A big fall in the first race of the Omnium, the Scratch Race, near the front of the field took down a swathe of riders, Kopecky included. Injured, she still lined up in the second of the four races afterwards, the Tempo Race, but it quickly became clear that she couldn’t go on.
“If it was so easy to achieve dreams we wouldn't call them dreams I guess,” said Kopecky on Instagram following the Omnium. “Lots of tears have been floating over here in Tokio and the feeling of failure dominates. Giving up an Olympic race is a terrible feeling. After the crash I just couldn't get any power on the pedals.”
“Undergoing some medical screening to figure out what's going on.”
Kopecky, who is on the Liv Racing team this year, is on the start list for the four-day Ladies Tour of Norway which begins on Thursday. It is a race that could deliver opportunity for the fast finisher if she is able to make it to the start line.
Throughout 2021, Kopecky’s strong form has been on display on the road with the rider rarely out of the top 10, often on the podium and having delivered a win at Le Samyn des Dames, a stage victory in the Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour and a stage win at the Lotto Belgium Tour as well as the overall title. She also secured both the national road race and time trial titles.
Belgium's track cycling coach Peter Pieters told Sporza that Kopecky belonged in the list of favourites given her strong form but could no longer put pressure on her leg after she came down hard on her hip.
“She was in a good position when she fell, but she couldn't avoid the crash right in front of her,” said Pieters on Sporza. “We didn't have luck on our side, these Olympics should be the reward for her hard work. Her world is currently collapsing."
This wasn’t Kopecky’s first Olympics, with the Belgian racing at Rio as a 20 year old. There she came 45th in the road race, hanging on to the finish even after delivering a long solo break early in the race. Kopecky then went on to finish 21st in the time trial. While she may be disappointed at how things turned out in Tokyo at her second Olympics five years later the rider quickly turned to thoughts of her third as she ended her Instagram post.
“Paris is only 3 years, right?”
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Simone joined the team as Production Editor based in Australia at the start of the 2021 season, having previously worked as Australian Editor at Ella CyclingTips and as a correspondent for Reuters and Bloomberg.