When the Simac Ladies Tour hopped over onto Belgian soil for a time trial in Leuven the Belgian national champion Lotte Kopecky couldn’t be stopped. The World road champion stormed to victory, finishing two seconds ahead of Dutch national ITT champion Riejanne Markus (Jumbo-Visma) and 11 seconds ahead of Canyon-SRAM’s newest recruit Zoe Bäckstedt.
Kopecky’s time was fast enough to also take the overall lead from DSM-Firmenich’s Charlotte Kool. As the race heads into its third stage Kopecky leads by two seconds ahead of Markus and 13 seconds ahead of her SD Worx teammate Lorena Wiebes.
How it happened
- Australian Georgie Howe set the fastest time of 9:18.50 early on. The Jayco-AlUla rider finished 10th in her first World Championships time trial in August. The first rider to best Howe was her teammate Georgia Baker, a decorated track rider, who went almost three seconds faster than Howe as Annemiek van Vleuten rolled off the start ramp.
- The next rider to reset the fastest time was Christina Schweinberger. The Austrian road champion finished third in the ITT at Worlds and followed it up with fifth in the road race. She finished the time trial on Thursday three and a bit seconds ahead of Baker.
- After Schweinberger’s finish, the riders came in faster and faster, with Bäckstedt setting a time of 9:10.92 in her first ride on her new Canyon (after transferring to Canyon-SRAM from EF Education-TIBCO-SVB last week).
- With only a few riders left to finish, Belgian national champion Kopecky set a time of just under nine minutes, a time Dutch ITT champion Riejanne Markus couldn’t touch.
- As it turned out, no one could touch the world road champion, as stage 1 winner Elisa Balsamo and GC leader Kool both crossed the line over half a minute down.
Brief stage results
GC standings after Stage 2
Quote of the day
When asked how she prepared for the Simac Ladies Tour time trial Kopecky, laughing, replied that she didn’t. The distance suited her and she went all out, that’s it. She’s enjoying a run of good form and a season that will go down in the history books, and she has no idea how but she is enjoying it while it lasts. According to the champ, some seasons will probably not be as fun.
Unlike many other riders in the race, Lotte Kopecky does not want the yellow jersey. A few weeks after her incredible and well-deserved victory in Glasgow the Belgian national champion just wants to wear her rainbow bands.
I’m really happy with this victory but I am not happy with the yellow jersery. I would have loved to start in the rainbow tomorrow instead of the yellow jersey.Kopecky after the podium ceremony
- It was the last time trial of Van Vleuten’s illustrious career, and while the day didn’t go her way, she has held every major honour time trialling has to offer. She was the World ITT champion in both 2018 and 2017 as well as the Olympic ITT champion in 2021.
- A fun fact: The last time she was in Leuven, at the Worlds in 2021, Bäckstedt won the junior women’s road race and finished second in the time trial behind Alena Ivanchenko.
- Belgium is currently experiencing what has been called the “Lotte Kopecky effect”, where, people claim, every time Kopecky wins a race 10 young girls sign up for bike lessons. If that’s true, does it double on home soil? Perhaps that’s why the organizers set a short snappy time trial just a few kilometres from Kopecky’s front door (removes tinfoil hat).
Up next: Stage 3
Back to the fast finishes for the third road stage of the Simac Ladies Tour from Emmeloord to Lelystad. The 149 km stage is pretty flat, there are some minor ascents but there are no alpine-esque ascents. All signs point to another race between Wiebes, Balsamo and Kool.
SD Worx was pretty unhappy with themselves after the first stage, where Balsamo outsprinted Wiebes to take the stage, so they will want to prove a point in Lelystad. The two-second gap between Kopecky and Markus could get a little interesting. Markus won the fourth stage last year solo, and it’s not out of the question she tries it again.
Live coverage of the stage can be found on GCN+ starting at 14:30 CEST.
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