Belgian champion Lotte Kopecky (Liv Racing) finished 15th in the inaugural edition of Paris-Roubaix after a tumultuous race. Puncturing when the peloton split apart probably cost her a much better result. Nevertheless, Kopecky was all smiles when entering the mixed zone at the inside of the Roubaix vélodrome on a rainy Saturday afternoon.
"I really had a lot of fun out there despite a poorly timed puncture. I received the bike from a teammate but it was way too big for me. That's the material I had to use to get over the cobbles at Mons-en-Pévèle and that wasn't fun at all. Nevertheless, it was a real pleasure to ride this race," Kopecky said.
Halfway through the race, Kopecky featured in the small peloton that trailed solo leader Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) by two minutes. About thirty kilometres earlier Deignan rode away from the peloton with Kopecky as a close witness.
"I saw her go and figured it was way too far. The wind was favourable in many sections but quite often not favouring to ride solo either. She was really strong," Kopecky said.
While riding on the pavé sector from Auchy to Bersée the lights went out for Kopecky when she punctured. She was seen lifting her arm while riding on the left-hand side of the road with the rest of the peloton riding at the right-hand side of the road. Suddenly Kopecky swerved to the right and caused a crash in the peloton while nearly tumbling into a ditch.
"I was only thinking that I was on the left while I had to be on the right to get a new bike. I wasn't thinking and sadly enough I caused somebody to crash. At that moment I was only thinking that I had to get a new bike on the right-hand side of the road. That wasn't such a good idea," Kopecky said.
She received the bike from a much taller teammate who was at the back of the peloton at that point of the race. "I was really poorly positioned on that bike but it was a matter of getting as far as possible. If you're waiting for a spare bike at that point then your race is over. I kept going with that bike for 10 or 15 kilometres. The team car was far behind us. It was hard to get back up to me. I tried to make the most of it. I didn't know how many riders were ahead of me. I figured it was useless to stay in the group that I was in. I went for it. I'm glad I did that," Kopecky said.
The 25-year-old Belgian rider clearly is in love with Paris-Roubaix and in April 2022 she hopes to be back for more. "The race suits me well. You need all the luck in the world here. Nothing can go wrong in order to finish well and that wasn't the case for me today."
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