From FC Schelle Forward to Female Greg
Today's Gazet van Antwerpen
Gold in the Madison and Bronze in the Omnium. Since the Euro championship, the Jolien D’Hoore’s dominance over Belgian women’s cycling is over.
Lotte Kopecky is a 20 year old gutsy rider of Niel. In 16 days you have in Niel the Jaarmarktcross but there’s more to the town than just a parade of cyclocrossers (it’s also the town of Paul Herijgers and where Wout Van Aert was raised
). With Lotte Kopecky there’s a new standard-bearer of women’s track cycling. It was actually at the cyclocross of Niel that she made her first steps into cycling.
Yet my parents didn’t see it fit. Again a new sport: gymnastics, basketball, equestrian, tennis, ski, football…
She’s tried all of them but each time stopped a short quickly afterwards.
I was the forward of FC Schelle for 6 years but when I crossed for the first time in my brothers’ footsteps, I really was sold. I enjoyed cross and was good at it but since the track was an Olympic event, I had to drop cross.
From the “aspirant” category on [~14 years of age, I think?]I went to the Ghent track a few times. That’s where she learned to know Jolien D’Hoore. Lotte was the girl who’d rather stay in her corner but was taken by the 6 year older Jolien under her wing.
At that time she was already very good. I was super shy. She taught me a lot. I’ve always admired her.
That period is gone now. Now that Jolien is going to focus more and more on the road, Kopecky has to be the new standard-bearer of the Belgium’s woman track racing. In Tokyo she will race the Omnium in order to do better than Jolien’s bronze medal. After all she was already third in Paris.
On pure speed, Jolien is faster. I must rely on endurance and my ITT. If I need to compare myself to a road rider, than it has to be with Greg Van Avermaet. No top sprinter but very fast after a hard race.
[The comparison surprises me because she’s a better time-trialist in women’s cycling than Greg is in men’s cycling. What they have in common though is the football past]
Her Czech name comes from her great-grandfather, a migrant who came to Belgium for love. Lotte shares her live with 17-year-older Ken Ilegems, a mechanic. His father Etienne was 6 time Belgian champion in the amateur ranks and the latter’s brother Roger was Olympic champion Point Race in L.A. 1984. The last Belgian Olympic Gold medal before Van Avermaet but his post-cycling life was sad [this is a comment by me].
Ken is also an elite w/o contract rider but he rarely has a ride with her because he cannot follow her anymore. When they reconed the Nats, they had a sprint but he could only follow her for 100m, that’s it.
A few days later it was the biggest disappointment of her season, the 2nd place at the nats.
I really cried afterwards. I then outsprinted Jolien but someone was even faster.
Next Sunday Lotte Kopecky, Jolien D’Hoore, the BMX rider Elke Vanhoof are expected at the Eddy Merckx Cycling Centre in Ghent for the Women’s Cycling Fan Day.