Team critical of Kopecky after 'ridiculous' action in Tour of Flanders, SD Worx-Protime and Vos outpaced by Lidl-Trek Cycling

Team critical of Kopecky after 'ridiculous' action in Tour of Flanders, SD Worx-Protime and Vos outpaced by Lidl-Trek

Team critical of Kopecky after 'ridiculous' action in Tour of Flanders, SD Worx-Protime and Vos outpaced by Lidl-Trek

SD Worx-Protime had some wounds to lick after the Tour of Flanders, not due to any crashes, but because their three leading women weren't there when it mattered. Demi Vollering had good reasons for this. Lotte Kopecky and Lorena Wiebes also shared their reactions.

Vollering appeared before Eurosport's cameras right after the finish line, her eyes sunken after an extremely tough race. "I'm dead, wow! This was horrendous," she sighed, catching her breath from a finale in which SD Worx-Protime had been chasing the race since the Koppenberg. It was on that climb that Kopecky and Vollering had to dismount. "On the Koppenberg, we had to run because of a crazy move by Kasia (Niewiadoma, ed.) I waited for Lotte and told her we shouldn’t panic. However, it cost us too much energy. It's a shame because if the two of us had been at the front, we could have heated up the race."

Lidl-Trek took control this time, with Elisa Longo Borghini winning and Shirin van Anrooij finishing third. Niewiadoma was second. Vollering believes her team could have changed the outcome. "I tried to attack on the Hotond, but it took too long," she lamented. "I made it back to the front and waited there for Lotte, knowing that with me, the pace would drop. We just couldn’t keep up on the Paterberg, we went too hard. Bad luck, because it's a different race if we don't have to get off the bike on the Koppenberg. That's how it is, and that's okay."

Kopecky and Wiebes exhausted, Vos accepts the inevitable

The fact that Kopecky still managed to compete in the finale was somewhat miraculous. The world champion appeared to struggle several times but nonchalantly sprinted into the top five. "It was mentally tough, yes. You're chasing and you feel that you're falling short uphill," she candidly told Sporza. "I don't know... Yes, the Koppenberg... It went so well for us there last year, but this year... Demi and I were on foot and there were many top riders ahead. You can't just close that gap. I also didn't feel a hundred percent. I communicated and kept riding to salvage what I could. We fought and lost. But I think we should be proud that we didn’t give up."

Wiebes, who had to let go earlier and wasn't with Kopecky and Vollering in the finale, agreed. "It was incredibly hard for me; this might have been my toughest Tour of Flanders ever. I had good legs, but when they attacked because Demi was almost back, I had to dig deep. Maybe I pushed too hard then," Wiebes said to, about the phase when she was still at the front. "Lidl-Trek had already shown their strength in Dwars door Vlaanderen. I don't know exactly how the finale went, I'd have to watch it again. We fought all day, that's what matters. I'm mainly disappointed in myself, that I couldn't get over the Oude Kwaremont. I just lacked a bit, but it wasn't a great day on the bike either."

Vos at peace with Tour of Flanders result, SD Worx-Protime not so much

If there was to be a challenge to Lidl-Trek, many expected it to come from Marianne Vos. However, the Dutch rider from Visma | Lease a Bike, who had won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Dwars door Vlaanderen, couldn't make her mark either. "It was a battle against the elements - wet, cold, and slippery. It was an extremely hard race. We found ourselves in a group, but in the end, the strongest riders remain. The Paterberg didn't lie. Shirin launched a solid attack, but Longo Borghini and Niewiadoma were just too strong. You keep hoping you can catch up, but deep down you know," the seasoned rider explained to this website. "By the finish, I doubt anyone had any juice left in their legs. The three leaders were just too strong. I had faith in my chances, but all I could do was hope for the best."

The post-race analysis at SD Worx-Protime lasted a long time on Sunday. Team director Danny Stam told HLN, "It's crucial we understand where things went wrong so we can improve for next time." He was notably frustrated with Kopecky, who had dropped back for food approaching the Koppenberg. "That was definitely not a smart idea. Lotte is the world champion and our leader. Why would you decide to fetch food yourself instead of leaving it to a teammate!? I was initially dumbfounded when I saw Lotte suddenly at the back of the peloton. And when she dropped even further back to the team car, I just had to tell her how ridiculous it was. Lotte has to get comfortable giving orders. She seems to get that now. In the debrief, she apologized to everyone and admitted her action wasn’t smart. She's taking that responsibility."

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