The Tour de France Femmes is not over yet, but Lotte Kopecky could not have asked for a better result. With a stage win, the overall green jersey victory, a day leading the Queen of the Mountains classification, and seven days in the sought-after yellow jersey, the Belgian rider has had the best eight days of her career, and there is still one stage to go. Now Kopecky is looking for one more achievement to add to her glittering list – a GC podium finish.
Kopecky currently sits fourth in the general classification after the ride of her career up the Col du Tourmalet on stage seven yesterday. She now sits 2:35 behind her teammate and new maillot jaune Demi Vollering. While Vollering on the top step was SD Worx’s goal going into the Tour’s second edition and is now looking like a done deal, Kopecky can focus her chances on a podium place as she sits seven seconds behind the current third-place rider, Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar), and 45 seconds from Kasia Niewiadoma, who sits second.
Five-time Belgian national time trial champion, Kopecky will be going into today’s stage in Pau feeling confident in her abilities for the race against the clock. Technically she is a fantastic rider, and with the podium place in striking distance, it is all to play for for the 27-year-old rider.
She is already on the top step of the podium for the green jersey, but for SD Worx, it is never enough. “I am a Skoda ambassador, so it is really nice to wear the green Skoda jersey, and winning the jersey in the Tour is something that will not happen every year,” Kopecky said after stage seven atop the Tourmalet. “I will try and enjoy tomorrow as well, and I am just going to go full gas. This is kind of the chance of my life.”
Kopecky celebrates Vollering's win at the finish line atop the Col du Tourmalet (Image by Thomas Maheux/ASO)
Handing over her yellow jersey to Vollering after the Dutch rider's phenomenal performance, Kopecky proved to cycling fans that she is more than just a Classics and track superstar. When given the freedom beyond team duties and hunting stage wins, she can put in a serious performance over the big mountains, crossing the finish line in fourth place. In a mountain stage, we might have expected Kopecky to slip out of reach of a podium place, but Kopecky kept the pressure on all the way to the top of the climb. She was part of a group of GC favourites, including Juliette Labous (Team dsm-firmenich), Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar), Ashleigh Moolman (AG Insurance-Quick Step), Marta Cavalli, and Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ-Suez), all riders who excel in uphill terrain. It was only until 5.5km to the finish after Vollering made her attack, that Kopecky was distanced alongside Labous.
“I wanted to enjoy my last day in yellow, but I guess you could say I didn’t really ‘enjoy’ it,” she laughed. “No, it was pretty painful, but I just went all out and we wanted to see where I could get.”
Kopecky is a true athlete: determined, driven and can endure a moment of pain for the bigger picture. She’s currently in the form of her life, and with the World Championships looming – something she is aiming for – she’ll be going into the race as a serious favourite and a rider those racing will have to be aware of. But first, the SD Worx rider is focused on finishing her astounding Tour de France Femmes. And with a time trial topping off this year’s Tour, the Belgian champion might just be able to add that podium finish to her palmarès, making it a two out of three for SD Worx. Could it be a second or third-place finish for Kopecky? Only time will tell.
*Cover image by Alex Broadway/Getty Images