Nearly 148.5 kilometers of mud, cobblestones and puddles… for a track finale, on the Roubaix velodrome. The explosive cocktail of “tough girls” struck again on Saturday April 6. Fallen in the Tour of Flanders, world champion Lotte Kopecky (SD Work-Protime) arrived with revenge after finishing in 5th place in the Ronde a week ago. The Belgian settled her scores on Saturday April 6, winning her first victory on the Flandrian Monument.

The track rider is one breath ahead of the Italian Elisa Blasamo (Lidl-Trek) and the British Pfeiffer Georgi (DSM-Firmenich PostNL). Lacking legs in the final race, eight-time cyclo-cross world champion Marianne Vos (Visma-Lease a Bike) failed at the foot of the podium.

Second in last year’s Tour de France and road world champion in Glasgow, the 28-year-old Flemish dreamed of adding the “Queen of the Classics”, which had always eluded her in recent years, to her list of achievements. “It’s monumental! It was my goal of the season, declared the Belgian, her face stained with dust, a few minutes after the finish. My teammates gave me a lot of love these last few days and I believed in myself. I knew I could win this race. (…) A sprint finish is always very nervous. I knew that there were two very fast sprinters in the group, with Marianne Vos and Elisa Balsamo, and I was locked in… I told myself that I had to start my sprint, even from afar, and that I ‘go there. »

A final sprint

If, in 2023, the Canadian Alison Jackson won to everyone’s surprise after a long solitary escape, this time the favorites learned their lesson. Lotte Kopecky showed herself at the front of the peloton from the first cobbled sector, just like the Italian Elisa Balsamo, victorious in 2022. Setting a hellish pace, the favorites imposed a first skimming at the halfway mark, while mechanical problems multiplied.

The world champion then shaped the race as she saw fit, to the rhythm of her lightning accelerations. It was she who took the lead of the race at the 97th km, with Marianne Vos, Pfeiffer Georgi and Christina Schweinberger (Fenix-Deceuninck). She again, who was at the origin of the creation of a leading group made up of around twenty runners at the exit of the 10th cobbled sector.

The Belgian then tried to make a difference on the cobbles, without achieving her goals. As in previous editions, the runners took the last 17 cobbled sectors (out of 29) of the men’s race, notably Mons-en-Pévèle and the Carrefour de l’Arbre. The legendary Trench of Arenberg was still not on the program, as it was considered too close to the start by the organizers.

The final was ultimately decided in a sprint between six runners: the Dutch Ellen van Dijk (Lidl-Trek), Amber Kraak (FDJ-Suez), and Marianne Vos, the Belgian Lotte Kopecky, the English Pfeiffer Georgi and the Italian Elisa Balsamo.

Starting behind Marianne Vos and Elisa Balsamo, the multiple track world champion managed to catch up with everyone from the outside to secure her first victory in Roubaix. She is one wheel ahead of Elisa Balsamo: “I did a good sprint, especially after a race as hard as that, but Lotte was stronger,” admitted the Italian. Best Frenchwoman, Victoire Berteau (Cofidis) crossed the line in 8th position. She is ahead of another Habs, Marie Le Net (FDJ-Suez), 9th.