"You're never confident, but I knew that I was one of the fastest of the group" - Lotte Kopecky opens 2024 Tour of Britain Women with thrilling sprint win

For the first time in nearly two years, the Women's Tour of Britain returned in 2024 with an opening stage this Thursday in North Wales. Taking victory in a thrilling finale, Team SD Worx - Protime's Lotte Kopecky powered her way to a narrow sprint win ahead of Letizia Paternoster.

Heading into the finale in a group of nine attackers, Kopecky edged out her Italian rival by the barest of margins after many looks by the race jury at the photo finish. So close was it in fact, that Paternoster actually celebrated as she crossed the finish line, assuming she had done enough to take the victory. In the end though it was the world champion who took to the post-stage podium to claim the first Green Jersey of the 2024 Women's Tour of Britain.

Speaking to CyclingUpToDate and the media assembled afterwards, the world champion reflected on a good day's work. "A lot happened! It was all day up and down actually and the race stayed pretty close until the climb where we broke out as a group," she recalled in her post-stage interview. "There had already been a couple of groups that had tried but it was not the right riders in the group."

In the group that eventually went clear, alongside Kopecky and the aforementioned Paternoster, were a number of the stars of the peloton at this race including Lizzie Deignan, Anna Henderson, Ruby Roseman-Gannon, Pfeiffer Georgi and the world champion's teammate Christine Majerus among others. At the intermediate sprint, it was Paternoster who pipped Kopecky to the line and as such, the Rainbow Jersey was well aware she wasn't going to have it all her own way.

As mentioned, the finish was an incredibly tight one, with Kopecky admitting she wasn't sure she had done enough for the win. "I knew she (Paternoster ed.) was the one to beat but I think I just had a very well timed jump. It was really close but it's nice to have a good sprint for myself," Kopecky laughs. "I didn't know, but even though Letizia raised her hands I was like: I don't know if I've won, but I'm also not sure you've won!"

"You're never confident, but I knew that I was one of the fastest of the group," she explains of the dynamic in the star-studded breakaway. "It was actually a group with a lot of fast riders but I knew that Paternoster was probably the rider to beat. I didn't try to focus on her, because I know that I have to ride my own sprint but she was the one that would probably get the closest."

"Christine is an amazing teammate and she always does a lot of work. When someone attacks, you can always feel confident that she'll be able to pull them back," Kopecky concludes, also casting an eye on tomorrow's stage 2, which could be another for the Belgian to shine on. "We'll see about tomorrow. We'll have to have a look at the classification and see how the stage goes exactly and what we can do."

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