Tour de France Femmes Stage 1: Irrepressible Kopecky, Irresistable SD Worx

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TOUR DE FRANCE FEMMES 2023 | STAGE 1 | CLERMONT-FERRAND > CLERMONT-FERRAND

Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx) wrote another beautiful chapter of her already stellar career as she powered to the Maillot Jaune on the first stage of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift 2023. The Belgian icon, wearing her national champion jersey, dropped everyone with a strong attack on the final climb of the day, into the last 10 kilometres to go to Clermont-Ferrand. She pushed all the way to the line to take a spectacular solo victory with a gap of 41’’ to her first chasers, with her teammate Lorena Wiebes and DSM-Firmenich’s Charlotte Kool completing the stage top 3. Kopecky takes her 11th win this season. And her first on the roads of the Tour.

The 154-woman peloton sets off from Clermont-Ferrand at 12:15 to take on a 123.8km loop set to crown the first Maillot Jaune of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift 2023. Martina Alzini (Cofidis) is the first attacker of the race, at km 11. But the peloton doesn’t let her go.

UNSUCCESSFUL ATTACKS

Marie Morgane Le Deunff (Arkéa) is the first attacker to open a gap, at km 18, only to be caught 6 km further. It’s then time for Typhaine Laurance (Lifeplus Wahoo) to lead the way from km 26 to 45, while Amandine Fouquenet (Arkéa) tries but fails to join her at the front. In the meantime, Mireia Benito (AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step) suffers a crash at km 27 and is forced to abandon.

The bunch rides together until tireless attacker Marta Lach (Ceratizit-WNT) sets off with 46 km to go. The former Polish national champion opens a gap of 50’’ but the bunch react and catch her ahead of the intermediate sprint in Saint-Hippolyte (26.7km to go).

Former world champion Lizzie Deignan (Lidl-Trek) goes first through the intermediate sprint. Yara Kastelijn (Fenix-Decuninck) tries to keep the momentum going after the line but everyone follows her.

KOPECKY’S POWER

The rolling terrain and the pace are too much for many riders, including Elisa Balsamo. Her Lidl-Trek teammates try to control the finale alongside SD Worx, who up the ante with Marlen Reusser on the main climb of the day, Côte de Durtol (cat. 3), to be summited with 9.3km to go.

23/07/2023 – Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift 2023 – Etape 1 – Clermont-Ferrand / Clermont-Ferrand (123,8 km) – © A.S.O./Thomas Maheux

Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx) accelerates inside the last 5 kilometres. And nobody can follow her strong attack. She goes first at the summit and keeps pushing all the way to the line, building a gap of 41’’ at the finish. Lorena Wiebes dominates the sprint from the bunch to complete another 1-2 for SD Worx and confirm their dominance at the highest level of cycling.

LOTTE KOPECKY: “THIS IS SUCH A BIG WIN”

“Sport is emotion and this is such a big win, on the first stage of the Tour de France, claiming the yellow jersey… It was on my mind for quite some time already. When I first saw the course, I thought it would be for the sprinters. But then my sports directors did a recon and they immediately texted me saying this is for me. When I saw the climb for myself, I was very happy. We’ve been joking with some friends, texting each other every day saying “10 kilometres to go” with yellow hearts… We had several options with the team, Lorena Wiebes could also have won in a sprint, Demi [Vollering] is very strong… I’m very happy the team gave me my chance and I took it. I just went full gas to the top and I never hesitated. When I heard the gaps, I knew that if I was able to maintain my power no-one could come back.

23/07/2023 – Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift 2023 – Etape 1 – Clermont-Ferrand / Clermont-Ferrand (123,8 km) – KOPECKY Lotte (TEAM SD WORX) – Vainquere de l’étape – © A.S.O./Thomas Maheux

I have no idea how long I can keep the jersey. It’s up to the team. It’s clear to me that the biggest goal is the overall victory with Demi. If we need to sacrifice the jersey tomorrow, we won’t hesitate. Whatever needs to be done will be done but it would be nice to wear yellow for a few days, for sure.”

23/07/2023 – Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift 2023 – Etape 1 – Clermont-Ferrand / Clermont-Ferrand (123,8 km) – KOPECKY Lotte (TEAM SD WORX) – Avec le maillot Jaune – © A.S.O./Thomas Maheux

CÉDRINE KERBAOL : “A BEAUTIFUL SURPRISE”

“I really didn’t expect to take the white jersey. On the last climb, I felt like this was really for strong riders. It was for the puncheurs, even the sprinteurs actually. It was too short! But I was reassured when I saw I was with Juliette [Labous]. We didn’t make it back to the group in front of us and I thought Gasparrini was up there. After the finish, I was headed to the team bus because I thought it was dead for today! It’s a beautiful surprise. Marta [Lach, winner of the Combativity award] gave us a nice show today, that’s cool. My goal with the white jersey is to have it on the last day rather than the first! Now that I have it, I will have to defend it.”

23/07/2023 – Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift 2023 – Etape 1 – Clermont-Ferrand / Clermont-Ferrand (123,8 km) – KERBAOL Cedrine (CERATIZIT – WNT PRO CYCLING TEAM) – Avec le maillot blanc – © A.S.O./Thomas Maheux

MARTA LACH: “SUPER NICE TO BE ON THE PODIUM WITH CÉDRINE”

“It was our team tactic to attack at this moment. I was fully committed to this. I hoped someone would go with me but nobody did. The goal was to stay ahead until the last climb but when the bunch started to go full gas they caught me after 15 km at the front. It was a bit sad but I didn’t think that I could be the most combative rider and I’m very happy. To be on the podium of the Tour de France with my teammate Cédrine [Kerbaol, best young rider] is super nice. We tried something. We didn’t just wait for the finale, because you never know what can happen. It’s an amazing feeling after I had to abandon last year. I fought so hard to come back. And to race here, hearing all the people cheering for you, knowing your name, it was very nice.”

23/07/2023 – Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift 2023 – Etape 1 – Clermont-Ferrand / Clermont-Ferrand (123,8 km) – LACH Marta (CERATIZIT – WNT PRO CYCLING TEAM) – Combative du jour – © A.S.O./Thomas Maheux
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