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Cycling Weekly
Cycling Weekly
Jack Elton-Walters

Lotte Kopecky wins Women's Elite World Championships Road Race with searing uphill attack late in the race

Lotte Kopecky wins the 2023 World Championships

Lotte Kopecky (Belgium) won the UCI Women's Elite World Championships Road Race with a blistering attack on a ramp around 5.5km from the finish.

She'd looked the strongest rider all day and was a deserved winner. There were times when it looked like she was doing too much, the expectation of being favourite weighing heavy, but she clearly knew what she was doing and it paid off in the end.

The group she left behind included almost all the rest of the best riders who'd taken the start line: this was a group of favourites away from whom the overall favourite eventually – but comprehensively – rode away.

Women's Elite World Championships Road Race: How it happened

The race set off from Loch Lomond with 154.1km to the finish line in Glasgow. The climb of The Crow Road saw many riders – including big names such as Marianne Vos (Netherlands) – dropped.

After a long, hard chase the group came back together not long before the peloton entered the city centre circuit in Glasgow.

During that chase, there were a number of breakaway attempts. One of these included a motivated looking Lizzie Deignan (Great Britain) and had about 40 seconds over the peloton for a while.

That group was caught and others tried, but it was all back together by the time Glasgow came into view. On the lumpy and winding roads that took the riders to the circuit, a select group got a gap over the strung-out peloton but there appeared to be limited cohesion.

With it all back together as the circuits started, the course as much as the riders whittled the numbers down. With the pace on at the front at times, the twisting, turning, lumpy nature of the parcours also counted some riders out as it was near-impossible to get back on after a crash or mechanical.

After a bike change, Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands) did make it back on during an early lap, but later Britain's Anna Henderson was brought down in a crash and the resulting delay to get a new bike effectively ended her race. She rode on for a short while but then abandoned.

Elise Chabbey (Switzerland) headed off on her own with around 74km to go and built a lead that peaked around 1:30. For a time it felt like the chase group may have forgotten about her. This appeared to be the case when they caught Elena Cecchini (Italy), who'd been dangling for ages between the leader and the chase, and the pace immediately dropped as if they were now the front of the race.

However, with a bit of looking around, some of the big names started to ride again. The group's numbers reduced over the following laps, with riders such as Kopecky  and Van Vleuten trying to get clear.

There was a short stint where it looked like Van Vleuten would get clear of the group due to its lack of cohesion to bring her back, but they got it together and reached her wheel.

There were attacks and counter-attacks, but all the while Chabbey stayed away on her own. The time gap did eventually start to come down, but arguably due to Chabbey fatiguing rather than the chase group doing the work to close her down.

Kopecky did a lot of work compared to most of the group but none of her early attacks came off and she could not get clear of her key rivals. Until she did.

Van Vleuten accelerated on a climb and while the others were looking that way, her teammate Demi Vollering went on the other side of the road. Kopecky was aware of the threat and jumped on her wheel.

As the chase group was attacking and counter-attacking, Chabbey was caught with around 15km to go. She was away on her own for around 59km, what a ride.

Van Vleuten then punctured and desperately chased back after a bike change, but she didn't see the front of the race again. It soon looked like it might have completely unravelled for the Dutch as Vollering appeared to be fading.

Deignan attacked and took Christina Schweinberger (Austria) with her. Kopecky stayed with Vollering and nearly counted herself out of the race until she realised the danger and crossed the gap to the leaders alone. Reusser had gone earlier and it was her that Kopecky caught first.

That quartet slowed up enough for Vollering to catch her breath and lead her trio back to the front of the race. No sooner had she caught up that Vollering launched her own attack. Kopecky was immediately on her wheel before chasing a counter-attack from Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Denmark), who she swiftly came around.

That pair was together for a short while before Kopecky launched her winning move with around 5.5km to go on a sharp uphill.

Uttrup Ludwig had a gap that looked like it would get her the silver medal but Vollering had other ideas and tried to close her down. Those two went head to head in a sprint and it was the Dutch woman who grabbed second.

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