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Lotte Kopecky takes her second career Strade Bianche Donne title

SD Worx-Protime has claimed four in a row

The world champion beat the Italian champion on the final climb of Saturday’s 10th Strade Bianche Donne in Tuscany, Italy. Lotte Kopecky claimed her second title, having also won in 2022. SD Worx-Protime has now won four in a row; last season’s champ Demi Vollering finished third on Saturday. The top Canadian was Olivia Baril, 46th in the 55 riders who finished.

The Course

Twelve of the 15 gravel sectors of the men’s route were shared with the Donne course, a total of 40 km of white roads in the whole 137 km. The longest stretch of gravel was Sector 5, 9.5 km with a kilometre climb of 6.9 percent to finish. The final 24 km contained three sectors, the last with 12 km remaining. In Siena, with 900 metres to the finish line, the race route passed beneath Fontebranda Gate where the road turned to cobbles. The gradient kicked up to 10 percent until 500 metres from the line, with a maximum gradient of 16 percent along Via Santa Caterina.

Four former champions were on the start line in Sienna: Elisa Longo Borghini, Lizzie Deignan, Kopecky and reigning queen Vollering. Last season SD Worx-Protime went one-two with Vollering and Kopecky and week after it had gone one-two with Vollering and Lorena Wiebes at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Last week Marianne Vos, Kopecky and Longo Borghini finished in that order in OHN.

The Canadian contingent was Simone Boilard (Uno-X Mobility), Alison Jackson and Magdeleine Vallieres (Canada/EF Education-Cannondale) and Olivia Baril (Movistar).

The peloton reached the fifth sector of white gravel, the taxing San Martino in Grania, intact. Uno-X started leaning into their work and the pack was streamlined to 60 women. The longest sectors were over. Deignan was part of an 11-strong escape that lit out on the steep Colle Pinzuto sector among the vineyards, 50 km remaining. By the first time on the Le Tolfe sector, the gap was 1:10.

Kopecky took responsibility for the chase on Le Tolfe.

Kopecky leads the chase with 45 km remaining.

In the long recess between sectors, the breakaway shattered into pieces and the Kopecky chase drew closer. By the third-to-last sector, a trio was at the pointy end of the race and 20 chased 20 seconds behind. Lidl-Trek finally made the capture before the penultimate climb.

Lidl-Trek pulled 23 Canadianless riders onto the second rumble across Colle Pinzuto. Vollering accelerated to string out the bunch. Puck Pieterse tried her luck. Vollering went again and Longo Borghini attacked over the top of the Dutch rider. Katarzyna Niewiadoma and Vos made it a quartet and then it all came back together.

Le Tolfe returned as the final sector. On the steepest grade, Niewiadoma pressed. Vollering, Kopecky, Longo Borghini and Shirin van Anrooij matched her. Vollering tried to fly free on a paved hill, dislodging van Anrooij. Kopecky pushed on with Longo Borghini and Vollering wouldn’t help Niewiadoma pursue, allowing van Anrooij to rejoin and Kristen Faulkner to bridge over.

The duo hit the Via Santa Caterina 19 seconds clear. Kopecky went hard with 500 meters to go, pulling out a big winning gap.

Kopecky makes her winning thrust on Via Santa Caterina.

Vollering rounded out the podium.

The next round of the Women’s WorldTour is March 10’s Miron Ronde van Drenthe.

2024 Strade Bianche Donne
1) Lotte Kopecky (Belgium/SD Worx-Protime) 3:55:43
2) Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy/Lidl-Trek) +0:04
3) Demi Vollering (The Netherlands/SD Worx-Protime) +0:26
46) Olivia Baril (Canada/Movistar) +10:26