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Remco Evenepoel, Lotte Kopecky win awards for top Belgians of 2022

Kopecky gets second award for her versitility after taking home two titles from the recent track world championships.

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Lotte Kopecky and Lotte Kopecky took home the top honors at the prestigious Flandrien of the year awards Tuesday, a ceremony to honor the best Belgian riders.

Evenepoel was awarded the trophy for the best Belgian man for the first time in his career after a season that saw him win his first grand tour at the Vuelta a España, his first monument at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and his first elite world title in Wollongong last month.

The win ends Van Aert’s run of three consecutive years at the top of Belgian cycling. Van Aert had a standout season with three stage wins and the green jersey at the Tour de France, a stage and the green jersey at Paris-Nice, and classics wins at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and the E3 Saxo Bank Classic.

“I’m very happy and proud to receive my first Flandrien trophy. It’s something special, as was my entire season, a truly amazing one that I will never forget,” Evenepoel said after receiving his award.

“I want to thank everyone for their support and for helping me achieve my goals and big dreams. It was a unique year I think, one that I don’t know if I will ever repeat, so that’s why this trophy means so much for me. Everyone on the team supported me from the beginning until the end of the season and I thank them for that. This award is also for my parents, as without them I wouldn’t be where I am now.”

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Kopecky took her third consecutive Flandrienne of the year award, after storming to wins at Strade Bianche and the Tour of Flanders in the spring, among other top wins.

She also became the first female rider to win the Patrick Sercu award for being the most versatile riders. On top of her wins on the road, Kopecky took home two world titles from the recent track worlds in the elimination race and the Madison.

“It all started with that victory in the Strade Bianche. Finally that top win. I knew I could do it, but the confirmation was especially important to gain confidence in my new team,” Kopecky told Het Nieuwsblad, which organizes the awards.

“I have surprised many, but without bad luck I would have been close last year. I can climb quite a bit. And then came that victory in the Tour of Flanders. Actually, less punishing than the Strade, but as a Belgian more special. Many media also put my victory on the first pages, before the coverage of the men. That is a milestone for our sport.”

Kopecky came close to joining Evenepoel as a Belgian world champion in Australia last month but lost out to Annemiek van Vleuten following a late attack from the Dutch rider. Kopecky almost didn’t go to the worlds after a difficult summer at the Giro d’Italia Donne and the Tour de France Femmes but the close loss to Van Vleuten has lit a fire inside her.

“I can’t get that second place at the world championships in Wollongong out of my mind. Becoming second behind Annemiek van Vleuten is not bad, many people tell me, but if you are not disappointed with a second place in a world championships, you will never become a world champion. I race to win and want to ride in that rainbow jersey for a year someday,” she said.

Other awards were handed out with Van Aert receiving a prize for the “spark of the year” a prize given for the best moment of the season for his exploits at the Tour de France. Ilan van Wilder received the award for the teammate of the year, while Alec Segaert, Vlad Van Mechelen, and Cedric Keppens were collectively awarded the young Flandrians of the year.

For the second time, Tadej Pogačar was given the prize for best international male and Annemiek van Vleuten received the award for best international female, a prize that was inaugurated this year.