Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx) wrote another beautiful chapter of her already stellar career as she powered to the Maillot Jaune on the first stage of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift 2023. The Belgian icon, wearing her national champion jersey, dropped everyone with a strong attack on the final climb of the day, into the last 10 kilometres to go to Clermont-Ferrand. She pushed all the way to the line to take a spectacular solo victory with a gap of 41’’ to her first chasers, with her teammate Lorena Wiebes and DSM-Firmenich’s Charlotte Kool completing the stage top 3. Kopecky takes her 11th win this season. And her first on the roads of the Tour.
The 154-woman peloton sets off from Clermont-Ferrand at 12:15 to take on a 123.8km loop set to crown the first Maillot Jaune of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift 2023. Martina Alzini (Cofidis) is the first attacker of the race, at km 11. But the peloton doesn’t let her go.
Marie Morgane Le Deunff (Arkéa) is the first attacker to open a gap, at km 18, only to be caught 6 km further. It’s then time for Typhaine Laurance (Lifeplus Wahoo) to lead the way from km 26 to 45, while Amandine Fouquenet (Arkéa) tries but fails to join her at the front. In the meantime, Mireia Benito (AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step) suffers a crash at km 27 and is forced to abandon.
The bunch rides together until tireless attacker Marta Lach (Ceratizit-WNT) sets off with 46 km to go. The former Polish national champion opens a gap of 50’’ but the bunch react and catch her ahead of the intermediate sprint in Saint-Hippolyte (26.7km to go).
Former world champion Lizzie Deignan (Lidl-Trek) goes first through the intermediate sprint. Yara Kastelijn (Fenix-Decuninck) tries to keep the momentum going after the line but everyone follows her.
The rolling terrain and the pace are too much for many riders, including Elisa Balsamo. Her Lidl-Trek teammates try to control the finale alongside SD Worx, who up the ante with Marlen Reusser on the main climb of the day, Côte de Durtol (cat. 3), to be summited with 9.3km to go.
Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx) accelerates inside the last 5 kilometres. And nobody can follow her strong attack. She goes first at the summit and keeps pushing all the way to the line, building a gap of 41’’ at the finish. Lorena Wiebes dominates the sprint from the bunch to complete another 1-2 for SD Worx and confirm their dominance at the highest level of cycling.