2024 Paris Roubaix Femmes: Kopecky, a Rainbow Icon on the Cobbles

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ROUBAIX, France (April 6, 2024) — All eyes were on Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx-Protime) this Saturday, with the rainbow jersey on her shoulders and a status of hot favourite for the 4th edition of Paris-Roubaix Femmes avec Zwift… And the Belgian icon delivered a stunning victory in the André-Pétrieux velodrome after an impressive performance all day long. She was the most active rider on the cobbles to make the selection. Eventually, as a group of six favourites entered the velodrome, SD Worx-Protime’s leader, a world champion on the road and on the track as well, made the most of her power to get the better of Elisa Balsamo (Lidl-Trek) and Pfeiffer Georgi (DSM-Firmenich PostNL), with Marianne Vos (Team Visma | Lease a Bike) finishing 4th. Kopecky is the first Belgian winner of Paris-Roubaix since Philippe Gilbert in the men’s edition, in 2019. She’s also the first reigning world champion to claim the winner’s cobble since Peter Sagan in 2018.

06/04/2024 – Paris-Roubaix Femmes avec Zwift – Denain / Roubaix (148,5km) – KOPECKY Lotte (TEAM SD WORX – PROTIME), WIEBES Lorena (TEAM SD WORX – PROTIME). – Photo © A.S.O./Thomas Malheux

The start from Denain, with two loops to open up the race, is marked by strong winds. Already wary of the breakaway after Alison Jackson’s triumph in 2023, the peloton also fear potential echelons.The tension is high, leading to several crashes including Jackson’s, and the early attackers are kept under control. Victoire Joncheray (Komugi-Grand Est) sets off at km 15 and opens a gap of 1’50’’ after 25km, but the peloton get back to her some 30 kilometres before the first cobble sector, from Hornaing to Wandignies (km 66).

 

Kopecky unleashed

The tension and the speeds increase as the peloton get closer to the cobblestones. Marianne Vos’ Visma | Lease a Bike, Emma Norsgaard Bjerg’s Movistar and Pfeiffer Georgi’s DSM Firmenich-PostNL are among the teams involved in driving the peloton. Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx-Protime) quickly shows her rainbow jersey at the very front. Lidl-Trek also show their collective strength and participate in the early selection.

06/04/2024 – Paris-Roubaix Femmes avec Zwift – Denain / Roubaix (148,5km) – Photo © A.S.O./Thomas Malheux

Kopecky pushes the pace on sector 15, from Tilloy to Sars-et-Rosières (2.4km, 4*), to make a first selection with 70km to go. The world champion does everything, even fixing her handlebar with an Allen key provided by her team car.

06/04/2024 – Paris-Roubaix Femmes avec Zwift – Denain / Roubaix (148,5km)- Photo © A.S.O./Thomas Malheuxq

And she goes on to the attack again on sector 12, in Auchy-lez-Orchies (2.7km, 4*). This time, only three riders can follow her, 53km away from the finish: Marianne Vos, Peiffer Georgi and Christina Schweinberger (Fenix-Deceuninck).

FDJ-Suez on the move

Ellen van Dijk (Lidl-Trek) makes sure they’re caught on the iconic cobbles of Mons-en-Pévèle (3km, 5*). Kopecky tries again with 45km to go, unsuccessfully. DSM Firmenich-PostNL, Visma | Lease a Bike and Lidl-Trek take turns at the front of a 30-woman peloton.

Jade Wiel (FDJ-Suez) goes solo with 33.5km to go, just like Elisa Longo Borghini when she won Paris-Roubaix Femmes avec Zwift. The Frenchwoman opens a gap of 30’’ but she’s eventually caught on the cobbles of Bourghelles to Wannehain (1.1km, 3*). Her teammate Amber Kraak immediately counter-attacks and Van Dijk joins her.

A thriller until the end

Kopecky accelerates again in Camphin-en-Pévèle (Km 128.6 – Sector 5, 1.8km, 4*) and a group of six riders emerge on the Carrefour de l’Arbre with the Belgian world champion, Van Dijk, Kraak, Georgi, Vos and Elisa Balsamo (Lidl-Trek). Vos and Kopecky attack again and again but they can’t get rid of each other.

06/04/2024 – Paris-Roubaix Femmes avec Zwift – Denain / Roubaix (148,5km) – KOPECKY Lotte (TEAM SD WORX – PROTIME) – Remporte l’édition 2024, VAN DIJK Ellen (LIDL – TREK), VOS Marianne (TEAM VISMA | LEASE A BIKE) – Photo © A.S.O./Thomas Malheux

As a 10-woman chase group featuring Lorena Wiebes (SD Worx-Protime) gets closer in the finale, Van Dijk sacrifices herself to drive the lead group into the velodrome with a gap of 20’’. Balsamo and Vos open up the sprint but they can’t resist Kopecky’s mighty sprint to claim her spot in the legend of the Hell of the North.

06/04/2024 – Paris-Roubaix Femmes avec Zwift – Denain / Roubaix (148,5km) – BALSAMO Elisa (LIDL – TREK), KOPECKY Lotte (TEAM SD WORX – PROTIME), GEORGI Pfeiffer (TEAM DSM-FIRMENICH POSTNL) – © A.S.O./Thomas Malheux

Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx-Protime)

“Of course, I was nervous, but also quite relaxed, feeling how much confidence the team had in me. The feeling was not so good after last Sunday but I’m lucky to have really good friends and a really good team behind me. We wanted to stay out of trouble in the first 60 kilometres, then be in front in the first two sectors and then we knew there would be crosswinds. I attacked a first time and from that moment on, I wanted to go, but being with Marianne [Vos] was not ideal. Whenever I was with Marianne, I was playing Lorena’s ward in the sprint. I wanted to win myself but I was also 110% committed if a race situation came that we’d sprint for Lorena [Wiebes]. On the track, I knew that Marianne and Elisa [Balsamo] would fight against each other. They had to start the sprint pretty early, with headwind, so I just tried to stay calm. It was a pretty long sprint but that’s also in my advantage. The cobble will get a special place. I still believe the world championship last year is the biggest win I achieved, but winning Paris-Roubaix in this special jersey comes pretty close.”

Elisa Balsamo (Lidl-Trek)

“Actually, if you had told me at the start I would finish 2nd, I wouldn’t have believed it, so I’m extremely happy, but when you’re runner up in such a race, you can’t help to feel some disappointment. It’s normal, but ten minutes have passed, and now I have to say I’m super satisfied and I want to thank my team. We did a very good job to position ourselves and Ellen [van Dijk] was really really strong. She did an amazing race and then she worked for me in the finale. I always said I don’t really like this race but I have to say I felt really good today. I think I did a good sprint but Lotte [Kopecky] was just stronger after such a hard race. It’s okay. To hold on with such champions is incredible. I surprised myself. Now I need to believe in myself because I didn’t think I could do well here. I’ll try again in the coming years!”

Pfeiffer Georgi (DSM-Firmenich PostNL)

“When we crossed the line, I was not sure if I was 3rd or 4th and I was really hoping to get on the podium… So when it came on the screen, it was very emotional. It’s a Monumental race, a dream race of me and a big goal, so coming on the podium means a lot. I felt a lot of pressure coming in the velodrome because it’s a rare opportunity to find yourself in a position to win Roubaix. I didn’t want to mess up, I didn’t want to get boxed in… It was a tough challenge to win the sprint but in Roubaix anything can happen and I did a big launch to get on the podium. The first edition was crazy for me, I kind of wrote it off… But I got two top 10s in the last couple of years. It’s a love and hate relationship, it’s a dream race and I will keep coming back fighting for this stone.”

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