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UCI Road World Championships: Lotte Kopecky painfully disappointed but gracious in defeat

'It’s a little bit painful actually. If you’re so close to a world title then second is not enough,' says silver medalist.

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Lotte Kopecky (Belgium) cut a frustrated figure as she crossed the finish line in the women’s road race at the UCI Road World Championships.

The Belgian had battled back after being dropped several times to claim a well-deserved silver in Wollongong but with Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands) jumping clear in the final kilometer, and successfully holding off the remnants of the pack, second place was the best that Kopecky could have eventually hoped for.

“It’s a little bit painful actually. If you’re so close to a world title then second is not enough. I’m pretty disappointed actually but with Annemiek we have a very worthy winner,” Kopecky said after the race.

Also read: Seven conclusions from the UCI Road World Championships women’s road race

There were certainly mixed emotions on display as Kopecky talked to the media after a pulsating women’s race. The Belgian clawed her way back into contention after five pure climbers had broken clear on each of the final two laps. With around a kilometer to go Kopecky and a group of seven others caught the leading five and it looked as though a reduced sprint would decide the title.

Van Vleuten had been in the second group with Kopecky and rather than wait for the sprint she attacked immediately, and with no reaction from behind the veteran had the final moment of hesitation on which she could build her slender lead.

“It’s hard to say at the moment. I’d like to see the last kilometers. Annemiek chose the perfect moment and the others, not just myself, made the mistake of not reacting immediately. She came with speed and it was just a very smart attack.”

Van Vleuten had started the race with a fractured elbow following her crash in the mixed TTT earlier in the championships. The Dutch rider was unable to climb out of the saddle during the race and was forced to ride at a conservative pace by her standards.

“It’s already crazy that she starts with a broken elbow and she wins this race. You could see in the race that she wasn’t at 100 percent but then she made the perfect and very smart attack. We hesitated for a moment but she was gone,” Kopecky added.

“I came too short when it came to following the five best on the steep climb but I tried to pace myself well and I knew that afterward there was a chance to come back. I really relied on that. For me, it feels like a missed opportunity. I’m proud to get a medal but the disappointment is a bit higher.