Lotte Kopecky 'raced as two' in Nokere Koerse amid grief from brother's death

 Belgian Lotte Kopecky of team SD Worx on the podium after winning the Nokere Koerse
Belgian Lotte Kopecky of team SD Worx on the podium after winning the Nokere Koerse

Lotte Kopecky could have been excused if she opted to skip Nokere Koerse just days after her older brother Seppe died suddenly and unexpectedly over the weekend. Instead, she stuck to her schedule and then clobbered the peloton with a searing attack and soloed for seven kilometres to win the Pro Series race.

Her brother Seppe Kopecky raced as a junior and was an inspiration for Lotte Kopecky's highly successful career. He died on March 11 at the age of 29

The race was a needed distraction from her grief, and she said she wanted to make the most of it.

"I wasn't thinking about winning beforehand. I didn't want to spare myself today," Kopecky said. "I was tremendously strong. I hope I was able to make my brother proud."

Kopecky had been on the schedule to compete in the mid-week ProSeries event and despite the tragedy, she wanted to stick to the schedule. Already a winner at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and a photo-finish runner-up to teammate Demi Vollering in Strade Bianche, she is gearing up to defend her title in the Tour of Flanders and targeting Paris-Roubaix, too.

"I had made the choice to race last week and really wanted to race today no matter what. It was our goal to make it a hard race and I think we did," she said.

After attacking on the cobbled climb with 12km to go on the Lange Aststraat, Kopecky joined solo attacker Aude Biannic (Movistar), followed by Elenora Gasparrini (UAE Team ADQ), then burned her two breakaway companions off her wheel on the Huisepontweg with 7km to go.

"Not much was going through my head during my solo," Kopecky said. "The past few days weren't easy, but there's no point in letting my head hang down and sitting at home on the sofa.

"Somehow it was nice to join the team on Tuesday, laugh a bit and try to think as little as possible about what happened. I am someone who needs to be able to take my mind off things. That worked out well."