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Kopecky wins Strade Bianche Women

Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx) won Strade Bianche Donne in a thrilling finale, beating Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) in the final sprint for the line. 

It was an unusually large group that approached the final climb, with most of the favourites still in contention. Van Vleuten was the first to attack, 800m from the line, immediately shadowed by Kopecky, and her teammate, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio. 

On the steepest section of the Via Santa Caterina climb, Moolman-Pasio’s challenge began to fade as Kopecky fought to stay on Van Vleuten's wheel.

Side-by-side in the narrow streets of Siena, Kopecky and Van Vleuten unleashed their sprints, and Kopecky managed to just edge the Movistar rider in the last hundred metres, before collapsing with the effort as she crossed the finish line.

Moolman-Pasio completed the podium, punching the air as she finished to celebrate her teammate's victory.

"I mean, I cannot believe this but this was actually the plan for the team," Kopecky said in her post-race interview. "Racing like this, with SD Worx is really super nice to do because I can attack myself, I have teammates behind me who have my back and I think today was perfect. I cannot believe this.

"You’re never confident [of beating van Vleuten] - we saw that last week - but I had a good feeling today and I knew the person to follow was Annemiek and first I had to let her go a bit. I don’t know what happened in my head but I just kept going and when we turned to the right I passed her but then the other corner she passed me again and it was really just one sprint to the last corner. It is amazing to win this race."

How it unfolded

The eighth edition of Strade Bianche Donne unfurled in the Tuscan hills surrounding Siena. Beginning and ending in the town, the peloton tackled five steep climbs and 31.4 kilometres of gravel roads, before arriving back in Siena along the Via Santa Caterina - a 16 per cent climb to the Piazza del Campo and the finish line. 

Soon after the flag dropped, Rebecca Koerner (Uno-X ProCycling) was the first rider to attack, and she was later joined by Emily Newsom. (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB) Together, they quickly amassed an advantage of 1:30, as the race hit the first gravel sector of the day.

On the second gravel sector, Newsom began to display her extensive gravel-racing experience, dropping her breakaway companion and, by the third sector with 94 kilometres still to race, Newsom led Koerner by 38 seconds, and the peloton by 3:00.

Meanwhile, back in the peloton, the favourites’ teams sent a rider each to control the pace until a blur of pinks and yellows and blues were all that could be seen behind the dust kicked up on the gravel roads.

They began to reduce Newsom’s lead so that on the San Martino, the longest gravel sector of the race, it fell from 2:15 to just a few metres, and she was caught as the race re-joined the tarmac roads, 55 kilometres from the finish. 

A series of attacks followed in an attempt to break up the peloton, and though initially unsuccessful, the main field repeatedly fractured and reformed over the next 25km. 

Briefly, a trio comprising Jeanne Korevaar (Liv Racing-Xstra), Grace Brown (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) and Mavi Garcia (UAE Team ADQ) escaped but a group containing such strength was deemed too dangerous by the peloton. 

Then, 29km from the finish, last year’s winner, Chantal van den Broeck-Blaak (SD Worx) attacked but she was immediately marked by Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) and Liane Lippert (Team DSM). In the chaos that followed as the peloton scrambled to chase, Marta Bastianelli (UAE Team ADQ) countered with Alena Amialiusik (Canyon-SRAM).

Although their attack was short-lived, it pulled away a strong group containing many of the days’ favourites. Behind, Movistar chased hard to bring van Vleuten back into contention, and the race regrouped with 24km still to race.

Three kilometres later, Kopecky showed her strength, launched her own attack, and opened up a 20 second gap ahead of the penultimate gravel sector. On the steep chalk roads, the peloton, formed of about 15 riders, reeled her back in.

With 14.3km to go, Van den Broek-Blaak attacked once again, but as soon as the race hit the last gravel sector van Vleuten accelerated, neutralising van den Broek-Blaak’s offensive, and distancing everyone in the race except Kopecky. 

For five kilometres, this pair remained out front, separated from the peloton by a small ten-second gap but they were caught seven kilometres from the finish. Repeated attacks by Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio and Demi Vollering from SD Worx stressed the race, but still the group remained together.

It was an unusually large group, then, that approached the final climb with most of the favourites still in contention. Van Vleuten’s attack once again dropped everyone except Kopecky, and initially Moolman Pasio. As the gradient reached its steepest point, it seemed that Van Vleuten would drop the two SD Worx riders, but, somehow, Kopecky was able to hang on for the climb.

Positioning was crucial ahead of the final drop down into Siena's Piazza del Campo and the pair exchanged places as they fought for the front on the narrow streets. In the end, Kopecky took the lead into the crucial final right-hand bend and finished it off. 

Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Lotte Kopecky (Bel) SD Worx 3:59:14
2Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Movistar Team Women
3Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) SD Worx 0:00:10
4Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol) Canyon-Sram Racing 0:00:19
5Cecilie Ludwig (Den) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope 0:00:24
6Elise Chabbey (Swi) Canyon-Sram Racing 0:00:28
7Marianne Vos (Ned) Jumbo-Visma Women 0:00:29
8Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo Women
9Shirin van Anrooij (Ned) Trek-Segafredo Women 0:00:34
10Silvia Persico (Ita) Valcar-Travel & Service
11Grace Brown (Aus) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope 0:00:39
12Demi Vollering (Ned) SD Worx 0:00:50
13Liane Lippert (Ger) Team DSM Women 0:01:37
14Floortje Mackaij (Ned) Team DSM Women 0:01:39
15Yara Kastelijn (Ned) Plantur-Pura 0:01:53
16Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (Ned) SD Worx 0:02:07
17Anouska Koster (Ned) Jumbo-Visma Women 0:03:24
18Ruby Roseman-Gannon (Aus) BikeExchange-Jayco Women 0:03:28
19Soraya Paladin (Ita) Canyon-Sram Racing
20Sabrina Stultiens (Ned) Liv Racing Xstra
21Coryn Rivera (USA) Jumbo-Visma Women 0:03:31
22Alena Amialiusik (Blr) Canyon-Sram Racing
23Femke Gerritse (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg 0:03:33
24Niamh Fisher-Black (NZl) SD Worx 0:03:37
25Audrey Cordon Ragot (Fra) Trek-Segafredo Women
26Juliette Labous (Fra) Team DSM Women
27Erica Magnaldi (Ita) UAE Team ADQ 0:03:46
28Marta Bastianelli (Ita) UAE Team ADQ
29Mavi Garcia (Spa) UAE Team ADQ 0:03:48
30Anna Henderson (GBr) Jumbo-Visma Women 0:03:55
31Magdeleine Vallieres Mill (Can) EF Education-TIBCO-SVB 0:04:16
32Eugenia Bujak (Slo) UAE Team ADQ
33Lily Williams (USA) Human Powered Health Women 0:04:33
34Marta Lach (Pol) Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling Team 0:04:38
35Vittoria Guazzini (Ita) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope 0:04:44
36Arianna Fidanza (Ita) BikeExchange-Jayco Women 0:06:21
37Sofia Bertizzolo (Ita) UAE Team ADQ
38Silvia Zanardi (Ita) BePink
39Paula Patiño Bedoya (Col) Movistar Team Women
40Georgia Williams (NZl) BikeExchange-Jayco Women 0:06:27
41Abi Smith (GBr) EF Education-TIBCO-SVB 0:06:31
42Jeanne Korevaar (Ned) Liv Racing Xstra
43Tamara Dronova (Rus) Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad
44Quinty Schoens (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg 0:06:34
45Elisa Balsamo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo Women
46Nina Buijsman (Ned) Human Powered Health Women 0:06:40
47Valerie Demey (Bel) Liv Racing Xstra
48Marie Le Net (Fra) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope
49Anna Shackley (GBr) SD Worx 0:06:43
50Léa Curinier (Fra) Team DSM Women 0:06:54
51Alicia Gonzalez Blanco (Spa) Movistar Team Women 0:07:05
52Pauliena Rooijakkers (Ned) Canyon-Sram Racing 0:08:43
53Marta Jaskulska (Pol) Liv Racing Xstra 0:08:46
54Letizia Borghesi (Ita) EF Education-TIBCO-SVB 0:08:58
55Sanne Cant (Bel) Plantur-Pura 0:09:54
56Olivia Baril (Can) Valcar-Travel & Service 0:10:04
57Greta Marturano (Ita) Top Girls Fassa Bortolo 0:10:29
58Alice Maria Arzuffi (Ita) Valcar-Travel & Service 0:11:19
59Anastasia Carbonari (Ita) Valcar-Travel & Service 0:12:41
60Camilla Alessio (Ita) Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling Team
61Teuntje Beekhuis (Ned) Jumbo-Visma Women 0:12:57
62Leah Kirchmann (Can) Team DSM Women
63Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Canyon-Sram Racing 0:12:58
64Michaela Drummond (NZl) BePink
65Julie Van De Velde (Bel) Plantur-Pura
66Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Ita) Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling Team
67Nadia Quagliotto (Ita) BePink
68Linda Riedmann (Ger) Jumbo-Visma Women
69Matilde Vitillo (Ita) BePink 0:13:02
70Ronja Eibl (Ger) Plantur-Pura
71Katia Ragusa (Ita) Liv Racing Xstra
72Laura Süßemilch (Ger) Plantur-Pura
73Barbara Malcotti (Ita) Human Powered Health Women 0:13:10
74Amalie Lutro (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Women 0:13:14
75Demi De Jong (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg 0:13:18
76Victorie Guilman (Fra) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope
77Francesca Balducci (Ita) Aromitalia Basso Bikes Vaiano
78Lauretta Hanson (Aus) Trek-Segafredo Women
79Amanda Spratt (Aus) BikeExchange-Jayco Women 0:13:21
80Sara Poidevin (Can) EF Education-TIBCO-SVB
81Hanna Nilsson (Swe) Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling Team
82Gaia Realini (Ita) Isolmant-Premac-Vittoria
83Hannah Barnes (GBr) Uno-X Pro Cycling Women 0:13:31
84Aude Biannic (Fra) Movistar Team Women 0:14:09
85Katrine Aalerud (Nor) Movistar Team Women
DNFRasa Leleivyte (Ltu) Aromitalia Basso Bikes Vaiano
DNFFrancesca Baroni (Ita) Aromitalia Basso Bikes Vaiano
DNFInga Cesuliene (Ltu) Aromitalia Basso Bikes Vaiano
DNFMilena Del Sarto (Ita) Aromitalia Basso Bikes Vaiano
DNFGemma Sernissi (Ita) Aromitalia Basso Bikes Vaiano
DNFPrisca Savi (Ita) BePink
DNFJade Teolis (Fra) BePink
DNFSara Casasola (Ita) Born to Win G20 Ambedo
DNFAnna Chili (Ita) Born to Win G20 Ambedo
DNFTatiana Chili (Ita) Born to Win G20 Ambedo
DNFSofia Clerici (Ita) Born to Win G20 Ambedo
DNFGiulia Luciani (Ita) Born to Win G20 Ambedo
DNFGiorgia Simoni (Ita) Born to Win G20 Ambedo
DNFLaura Asencio (Fra) Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling Team
DNFLara Vieceli (Ita) Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling Team
DNFEmily Newsom (USA) EF Education-TIBCO-SVB
DNFOmer Shapira (Isr) EF Education-TIBCO-SVB
DNFKaia Schmid (USA) Human Powered Health Women
DNFAinara Albert Bosch (Spa) Isolmant-Premac-Vittoria
DNFAlice Capasso (Ita) Isolmant-Premac-Vittoria
DNFAlice Gasparini (Ita) Isolmant-Premac-Vittoria
DNFAsia Zontone (Ita) Isolmant-Premac-Vittoria
DNFAyesha McGowan (USA) Liv Racing Xstra
DNFSara Martin Martin (Spa) Movistar Team Women
DNFRosalie van der Wolf (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg
DNFJustine Ghekiere (Bel) Plantur-Pura
DNFOlga Zabelinskaya (Uzb) Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad
DNFLéa Stern (Swi) Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad
DNFGulnaz Khatuntseva (Rus) Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad
DNFHannah Buch (Ger) Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad
DNFAline Seitz (Swi) Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad
DNFMaryna Ivaniuk (Ukr) Servetto-Makhymo-Beltrami TSA
DNFAnna Potokina (Rus) Servetto-Makhymo-Beltrami TSA
DNFSofia Barbieri (Ita) Servetto-Makhymo-Beltrami TSA
DNFSilvia Bortolotti (Ita) Servetto-Makhymo-Beltrami TSA
DNFViktoriia Melnychuk (Ukr) Servetto-Makhymo-Beltrami TSA
DNFChia Pedrelli (Ita) Servetto-Makhymo-Beltrami TSA
DNFJessica Allen (Aus) BikeExchange-Jayco Women
DNFUrska Zigart (Slo) BikeExchange-Jayco Women
DNFFranziska Koch (Ger) Team DSM Women
DNFDebora Silvestri (Ita) Top Girls Fassa Bortolo
DNFAlessia Vigilia (Ita) Top Girls Fassa Bortolo
DNFAlice Palazzi (Ita) Top Girls Fassa Bortolo
DNFCristina Tonetti (Ita) Top Girls Fassa Bortolo
DNFGiorgia Vettorello (Ita) Top Girls Fassa Bortolo
DNFTayler Wiles (USA) Trek-Segafredo Women
DNFLinda Zanetti (Swi) UAE Team ADQ
DNFRebecca Koerner (Den) Uno-X Pro Cycling Women
DNFHannah Ludwig (Ger) Uno-X Pro Cycling Women
DNFWilma Olausson (Swe) Uno-X Pro Cycling Women
DNFMie Bjørndal Ottestad (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Women
DNFElena Pirrone (Ita) Valcar-Travel & Service
DNSIlaria Sanguineti (Ita) Valcar-Travel & Service

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Issy Ronald has just graduated from the London School of Economics where she studied for an undergraduate and masters degree in History and International Relations. Since doing an internship at Procycling magazine, she has written reports for races like the Tour of Britain, Bretagne Classic and World Championships, as well as news items, recaps of the general classification at the Grand Tours and some features for Cyclingnews. Away from cycling, she enjoys reading, attempting to bake, going to the theatre and watching a probably unhealthy amount of live sport.

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