Belgian Lotte Kopecky wins Tour de France opening stage
Belgium's Lotte Kopecky won the opening stage of the women's Tour de France on Sunday, becoming the first rider to wear the yellow jersey in this year's edition.
The 27-year-old Belgian crossed the line solo after 123.8 km, with the start and finish in Clermont-Ferrand. With just under 10 km to go, Kopecky made a solo breakaway on the Côte de Durtol. The peloton never saw her again.
Her Dutch teammate Lorena Wiebes won the sprint for second place. Dutch rider Charlotte Kool completed the podium.
"Tomorrow, I will wear the yellow jersey. That will be something special. I'm looking forward to it"
"I've been thinking about this for a long time," Kopecky said after crossing the finish line. "I've been joking about it with my best friend for the last three weeks. It's fantastic that it worked out this way. On the last climb, I felt I had a little bit left in me. I went for it and thought someone would follow. But that didn't happen. When I got to the top I knew it was mostly downhill after that. I knew that if I used my strength, they wouldn't be able to catch me."
"We had two strategies, because Lorena Wiebes could also go for the win in a bunch sprint if she made it over the climb," Kopecky added. "But I was also allowed to go alone. Of course I'm happy with that. Tomorrow, I will wear the yellow jersey. That will be something special. I'm looking forward to it."
On Monday, the peloton will ride 151.7 km from Clermont-Ferrand to Mauriac, with the Côte de Trébiac (3.4km, 5.8 per cent) climb in the finale.
Lotte Kopecky crosses the finish line in the first stage of the Tour de France for women © PHOTO IMAGO