Peloton Watch
  Lotte Kopecky confirms talent with strong 2016 road season and two U23 European titles  
  September 6th 2016  
  Lotte Kopecky celebrates winning U23 European omnium title. Photo: UEC  
  2016 has seen Lotte Kopecky confirm her status as one of the rising starts in the women's peloton. A successful early and mid season on the road earned her seven top 10 finishes including the win at Trofee Maarten Wynants, second at Gooik-Geraardsbergen-Gooik and the under 23 Belgian time trial title.

A return to the track in August for the U23 European Championships saw the 20-year-old set personal bests and Belgian Records in the individual and team pursuit. Before claiming European titles in the points race and omnium, where she also set personal bests in the flying lap and 500 metre time trial.

The next week Kopecky was back on the road with a top 10 at La Course against the best in the world before heading to Rio. Knowing the course wasn't one that suited her she wanted to put herself in the race. After making the first major move along the coast, Kopecky was expecting riders to join her but when none did she continued on her own for the next 65 kilometres.

A final month on the road for 2016 sees Kopecky in action this week at the Lotto Belgium Tour before the World Championships in Qatar if selected. Then it is back on the track for the European Championships as she looks to establish herself as a leading contender in the omnium for Tokyo in four years.

Heading in to U23 European Track Championships what were your goals?

I wanted to get a podium and improve my PB in the IP.

Started Euros with personal bests and Belgium Records in the IP and TP did that give you confidence for the rest of the Championships?

When I rode my PB in the IP I knew the form was good again after being ill the week before. The day after was the points race so I was confident about what I could do but never sure how the race would go.

The points race was a big goal for you how did the race play out and what did it mean to claim the under 23 European title?

I really like points races but most of the time I choose the wrong tactics. This time I just started without pressure from myself or the federation and started without knowing what I was going to do. I just tried to do what I thought was good in that situation I took some points and gained a lap. Then I had enough points in advantage so I could control the race. I was really happy with that title. I know I had a good season already but the big win never came until now.

After a busy few days of racing how were you feeling ahead of the omnium?

I raced already three of the four days but still felt really good. I really wanted a podium in the omnium.

Went on to claim the omnium title. The timed events in the past have been your biggest challenge did you surprise yourself with your performances?

I was really surprised! With my form I had knew I was able to get on the podium but never thought I could win. My 500m and flying lap times were very good and new personal bests! I was surprised by the times but then not really as I have been working on getting stronger every year so it has to go better every time but it is always nice to ride a PB.

You have also taken a big step up on the road this year with 8 top 10 finishes including winning Trofee Maarten Wynants, second at the Belgium Championships and ninth at La Course happy with how your road season has gone?

Yes I had a really good winter with lots of training camps, and I felt I was getting stronger compared to last winter. My Track Worlds were a disaster but when I started on the road I had a great feeling from the first race and it got better every week. I was really happy about my Tour of Flanders! Then I had a little break and started again at the U23 national time trial championships, which I won and since then my season has been really good!

Have made some big improvements this year have you approached the year different with your training and preparation or just an extra year of experience?

I think both, good and more training this winter and a year older, a year more experience and a new team.

First rider to get away in the road race at the Olympic Games was it your always the plan to go on the attack early?

I wanted to be in the break but not alone! We started along the coast with a really hard headwind so the pace in the peloton wasn't really high. I thought I would just go and there has to be someone with the same idea. After 10 kilometres the team car came to me and asked, "Are you feeling up to this?" To which I answered "No!" as a joke. My advantage became bigger and bigger so I just went for it. I rode 65 kilometres alone in front of the peloton at the Olympics and that's just great! So I am very happy that I could show myself.

Spent a lot of the race out front solo, winning a lot of fans along the way how did the race go for you and how did you find the course?

It was amazing with all the people cheering for me. I felt like a superstar! The course was really hard! With lots of steep climbing.

Made your Olympic debut at 20 what was the experience like?

Amazing! I always dreamt of being at the Olympics. Doing that at the age of 20 is very cool! Now I have time to prepare for a few more. In Tokyo I want to go on the track.

What are your goals for the next couple of months? Final part of the road season and then back on to the track?

I just did four days at Boels Ladies Tour, this week I am doing Lotto Belgium Tour and then I want to go to the World Championships in Qatar. The week after Qatar it is already Elite Euros on the track in Paris followed by two World Cups. So a busy period coming!
 © 2016