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Kopecky screams at the sky as she crosses the finish line of the 2023 World Championships in Glasgow first, riders can be seen in the distance

Who is LoKo enough to sign Lotte Kopecky?

The 2023 World Champion has hinted the 2024 season might be her last with SD Worx-Protime, but what other team could make space for a rider of her caliber?

Kopecky winning the Worlds road race was the seal on a perfect season for the Belgian woman.

Abby Mickey
by Abby Mickey 29.01.2024 Photography by
Gruber Images, Kristof Ramon, and Cor Vos
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A routine pre-season press conference with the road World Champion Lotte Kopecky covered all the usual topics that followed the most successful season of her career and proceeded another important season – her aims for the 2024 season, the Olympics, how she felt about 2023, etc. But another topic was broached: where will the Belgian ride after the Olympic year ends? Her contract with SD Worx-Protime is set to expire, and despite finding success at the Dutch team, Kopecky hinted she might not call it home come January 2025.

When asked about the understandable interest from other women’s teams Kopecky responded that “maybe [it’s] not a bad thing to get a breath of fresh air.” That raises the question: which WorldTeams would be a good fit for the stoic yet ruthless rider? As a World Champion on the track and road, winner of multiple Tours of Flanders, wearer of the yellow jersey, and all-around badass, what teams could possibly have both the resources and space for someone like Kopecky?

Kopecky raises both her arms in victory, with a group of riders sprinting in the background.
Kopecky kicked off her 2023 season by winning Omloop Het Nieuwsblad solo; she’ll start 2024 at the UAE Tour and then defending her OHN title.

Lidl-Trek

With the addition of Lidl, the American team at least has the budget to pick up Kopecky, and with a hole in their Classics lineup, they also have the space to fit a rider with her skillset. She would balance out their other former World Champion Elisa Balsamo, who is a bit more of a sprinter than Kopecky. The two would be a formidable pair, along with the likes of Lucinda Brand and Shirin van Anrooij.

Moreover, Lidl-Trek’s lineup for 2025 may be due for some big changes: headline names like Brand, Elisa Longo Borghini, and Lizzie Deignan aren’t (yet) signed past this season, so adding Kopecky into the mix if the roster turns over wouldn’t upend the power structure.

Even if Longo Borghini and Deignan remain with the team, they aren’t the types to allow another big name to dim their shine. The team isn’t as good as SD Worx-Protime at dishing out opportunities team-wide, but they know their strengths and they play to them. Kopecky would be a great addition to their lineup.

Movistar

A team that knows how to orbit around one star, the team of former World Champion Annemiek van Vleuten, Movistar has surprised the cycling world by continuing to add international talent to their formerly all-Spanish roster. Perhaps with Van Vleuten off the team, they now have the space for a rider like Kopecky to step in? Especially considering she wouldn’t get in the way of their newest star, Liane Lippert, who will hopefully fill the shoes Van Vleuten left behind.

Imagine Kopecky lining up for the Classics alongside Emma Norsgaard, Floortje Mackaij, Arlenis Sierra and Paula PatiΓ±o. It’s a team that would have her former squad shaking in their Specialized shoes.

Visma-Lease a Bike

From one Dutch team to another, if she were to sign with Visma-Lease a Bike it would be kind of a step to the side without having to compete with her teammates for opportunities. There would be nearly no question of leadership, even with Marianne Vos signed through 2025. And who better to guide Kopecky in her career than someone who has been in her place? Someone who has also worn the yellow jersey, won a variety of races, and been World Champion? Kopecky and Vos would be a match made in heaven. Throw in Fem van Empel, and it’s the makings of a team to top the charts.

As of writing Visma-Lease a Bike only has four riders signed for 2025: Vos, Van Empel, Carlijn Achtereekte, and Sophie von Berswordt. Team management has been vocal with their plans to up the level of the team. They overhauled the team’s management over the off-season, and have brought in a handful of new Dutch riders to fill the spots left behind by multiple of their riders breaking contracts early.

With their goals for the future, it only makes sense the yellow and black team will be first in line to sign Kopecky on a multiple-year deal.

EF Education-Cannondale

Another team with ambitious goals for the future, EF Education-Cannondale might be a Continental team now but it won’t be for long if they keep their early season momentum going. If she’s looking for fresh air, where else would Kopecky look than the new American team that would provide the exact opposite environment from her current outfit?

In situations like press conferences, Kopecky doesn’t always show her personality as openly as riders like Alison Jackson, but she didn’t name her clothing brand LoKo for nothing. Imagine Kopecky starring in TikToks alongside AJ and Coryn Labecki and we could see a whole new side of the World Champion.

Kopecky looks into the distance before the start of a cycling race
Defending Champion Kopecky at the race start of the Belgian National Championships in 2022.

Staying put at SD Worx-Protime

With her palmares and potential the options for Kopecky are limitless. She would transform any team she joined; just look what she’s done to Belgian cycling since her rise began in 2020.

β€œI am in a strong position, which allows me to consider all options with my management calmly and not have to make a hasty decision,” Kopecky explained. β€œI hope to be out after the classics. And I decide which direction I will take my career in the coming years. Just so you understand: I really enjoy being here, I don’t necessarily have to leave.”

The Lotte Kopecky effect isn’t confined to her home federation, but under her leadership Belgian cycling is only improving. We watched at the World Championships in Glasgow as the team transformed into a team worthy of the World Champion, and whatever trade team she joins in the future will have to be prepared to back her goals going forward.

For that reason, it would be surprising to see her leave SD Worx-Protime. Sure, with Demi Vollering and Lorena Wiebes on the roster, Kopecky will always have a little inter-team competition, but it’s perhaps the only team right now that can support Kopecky at her current level financially and in the races. If she does find a home elsewhere it will mean another team that is capable of taking on SD Worx-Protime, and boy is that an exciting prospect for women’s cycling.

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