Belgian champion Lotte Kopecky wins Tour of Flanders

Van Vleuten finished just behind the winner with Van den Broek-Blaak taking third on the day.

by Abby Mickey

photography by Getty Images

After a 10 km long lead-out from her SD Worx teammate Chantal van den Broek-Blaak, Lotte Kopecky easily outsprinted Annemeik van Vleuten (Movistar) to become only the second-ever Belgian woman to win the Tour of Flanders.

The first significant reduction of the peloton happened just after the Taaienberg, within the final 36 km of the race, thanks to some pressure from Van Vleuten. Just after the top of the climb, an attack by Arlenis Sierra (Movistar) spurred an eleven-person break to form containing Brodie Chapman (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope), Anna Henderson (Jumbo-Visma), Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM), and Christine Majerus (SD Worx).

By the next climb, the Kruisberg/Hotond, the gap to the peloton had grown to 38 seconds. The pace set by Niewiadoma on the cobbles split the break apart while behind Van Vleuten again took advantage of the climb to put pressure on the race. Kopecky and Grace Brown (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) held tight to Van Vleuten’s wheel over the climb.

As the Van Vleuten group was brought back to the reduced peloton Marlen Reusser jumped the 18 seconds to the breakaway up the road.

With her teammate Reusser in the lead group, Majerus kept the speed high into the final two climbs but it was Chapman who hit the cobbles of the Oude Kwaremont first. Reusser was the first the crest the penultimate climb with Chapman and a small gap to Niewiadoma and Sierra. The peloton was well within sight of the fractured breakaway, led by Van Vleuten.

Surprisingly Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (SD Worx) reduced the gap to her teammate significantly before the final climb, so when the chase hit the Paterberg Van Vleuten easily jumped to the wheel of Reusser. Over the top of the Paterberg Van Vleuten, Reusser and Kopecky held a few seconds over Niewiadoma and Chapman, with Van den Broek-Blaak a few seconds farther behind. The six came together on the run into Oudenaarde.

With the numbers at the head of the race Van den Broek-Blaak attacked and Van Vleuten chased down the SD Worx rider with Kopecky on her wheel. Into the final 5 km the three out front held a 23-second advantage over the chasing group containing Niewiadoma, Chapman, and Reusser.

Van den Broek-Blaak led the three into the final kilometer. Van Vleuten started the sprint with 200 meters to go but the 2021 Flanders winner wasn’t faster than the Belgian national champion Kopecky who took her second WorldTour victory of the season.

Ronde van Vlaanderen - Tour des Flandres WE (1.WWT) Oudenaarde → Oudenaarde

KOPECKY Lotte Team SD Worx
VAN VLEUTEN Annemiek Movistar Team
SIERRA Arlenis Movistar Team
REUSSER Marlen Team SD Worx
LUDWIG Cecilie Uttrup FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope
BROWN Grace FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope
NIEWIADOMA Katarzyna Canyon//SRAM Racing
CHAPMAN Brodie FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope

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