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Racing a 'no-go' for Lotte Kopecky as she nurses injuries from Olympics crash

WAREGEM BELGIUM JUNE 20 Lotte Kopecky of Belgium Gold Medal Belgian Champion Jersey celebrates at podium during the 122th Belgian Road Championship 2021 Womens Road Race a 1224km one day race from Waregem to Waregem BELCycling belgiancycling on June 20 2021 in Waregem Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images
Lotte Kopecky (Liv Racing) is the Belgian Champion (Image credit: Getty Images)

As Lotte Kopecky struggles with the lingering disappointment of crashing during her targeted track events at the Olympic Games, she also continues to nurse physical wounds to her hip. 

In an interview with Cyclingnews, the Liv Racing all-rounder said that she is not yet recovered enough to start the next round of the Women's WorldTour at Simac Ladies Tour, as initially planned, but hopes to return to the peloton at Challenge by La Vuelta held from September 2-5 in Spain.

“I was planning on doing Simac Ladies Tour but that is a no-go for now, so I hope to be back in Madrid at the beginning of September,” Kopecky told Cyclingnews.

After a strong early season in the Spring Classics, Kopecky travelled to the Olympic Games to represent Belgium. In the elite women’s road race she finished just out of the medals in fourth place before turning her attention to the track where she competed in the Madison, with compatriot Jolien D’hoore, and in the Omnium.

Kopecky has placed a high priority on track racing during the last Olympic cycle, even while juggling road and cyclo-cross racing, and was preparing to chase the gold medal in both track events in Tokyo. Koepcky explained that in the Madison she crashed at the beginning of the event and then D’hoore crashed near the end, leaving them out of contention.

Kopecky then turned her attention to the Omnium but she crashed again in the Scratch Race. 

“I was aiming for a gold medal. I was very ambitious for the Olympics for both the Madison and Omnium but due to the crashes in the Madison, we had no chance of getting a medal, and that was disappointing. After that race we immediately shifted our thoughts to the Omnium, to focus on that event, but in the first race I crashed again. The disappointment was really big,” Kopecky said.

Kopecky injured her hip in the crash during the Omnium, and while she has just begun easy riding again, she said she hasn’t recovered enough to start racing.

“There was a crash in the first event, Scratch Race, and it happened right in front of me so I couldn’t avoid it. I crashed and took a hard fall on my hip. I have some trouble with it and I’ve been a week off the bike," she said.

"I started riding one hour easy [Monday] but it’s not fully recovered. The time to the World Championships is really short now and I hope that I can train as soon as possible."

Kopecky will now aim for a strong performances at the UCI Road World Championships in Flanders at the end of September and at Paris-Roubaix on October 2 in France. She will also compete in a full late-season campaign that includes the European Championships, the Women’s Tour and Ronde van Drenthe.

Kopecky will be a home favourite for the World Championships, and said that her fourth-place performance at the Olympic Games – behind gold medal winner Anna Kiesenhofer (Austria), runner-up Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands) and bronze medallist Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy) – gives her added confidence on challenging parcours at future events.

“When I reflect on it now, I can be proud of the fourth place at the Olympics. At that moment, though, I was disappointed because there’s a big difference between third and fourth place at the Olympic Games, it’s just one place, but I thought I could medal. At the time, I also thought that I had two more chances in the Madison and the Omnium, so I tried to keep my head high and go for it on the track,” Kopecky said.

“It was a tough course and getting fourth gives me confidence for every tough race on the women’s calendar that I will be able to hang on for a long time, to the end.”

Kopecky has signed a three-year contract to race with SD Worx through 2004. She said that she will spend time over the winter considering her goals for the next few years and for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

“I’m now at the level to be competitive and I hope that I can still improve. I think that in three years I might be at the best of my abilities and I hope everything keeps going the way it is going now. I’m disappointed about these Olympics. I want an Olympic medal and that is really my dream. Paris is only three years from now.

"I don’t know which disciplines I will continue doing in the next few years. I think, for now, I want to recover as well as possible with my main focus on Worlds and Paris-Roubaix. This winter I will see what my head is telling me and think about what I will do in the future."

Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in bike racing from the grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all cycling disciplines, edits news and writes features. Currently the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten coordinates global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.