SD Worx team-mates Lorena Wiebes and Lotte Kopecky have made it clear they are prepared to forgo their own victory opportunities to support each other this season.
Speaking ahead of the Dutch squad’s media presentation on Tuesday, the duo said they believe they can combine their racing skills, despite concerns their ambitions might clash.
“SD Worx is really a team that gives every rider a chance,” said new signing Wiebes, who joined this year from Team DSM on a three-year contract. “I had a good training camp and Lotte and I were good together.
“I think it will not be a problem next year. If she has a goal like Paris-Roubaix, I will fully support her, and the other way round. She will fully support me in my bigger goals.”
Wiebes and Kopecky met eight times in bunch sprints last year, with the Dutchwoman prevailing on every occasion. Since meeting at the team’s training camp, the pair have discussed their ambitions for 2023, and have struck an accord with which races they’ll target.
Kopecky’s big objective this year will be the early season Classics, notably the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix and Amstel Gold Race. Wiebes, on the other hand, hopes to win Gent-Wevelgem and continue her indomitable sprint form in stage races.
“I am aware that Lorena, at the moment, is the fastest sprinter in the peloton,” said Kopecky. “It would be not fair to say she’s not. But I also know in sprints I can do very well. I think our programmes will not clash too much, and we will make sure that it will not happen too much.”
For the Belgian time trial champion, Wiebes’s arrival brings a new opportunity, a chance to take on more of a wild card role within the team.
“I will not be the rider anymore who will have to wait until the sprints,” she said. “This will give me more of a free role and more chances to attack. That’s the style of racing I like the most, so I have no problem with that.
“For me, being an aggressive rider, if it doesn’t work out, we still have Lorena to finish. As long as we win as a team, then I think the team will be happy. For sure it will give me less stress towards races and [I can] be more relaxed.”
Now, with the new season underway, there’s an expectation within SD Worx that the two riders will join forces and ignite the peloton.
“Hopefully it’s going to make for some really attractive racing,” said directeur sportif Anna van der Breggen.
“They are really different,” the two-time road world champion added, alluding to Wiebes’s strength as a pure sprinter and Kopecky’s punchier style. “It’s not like I always want to put them in separate races. They can both win the race, yes, but they can also help each other.
“As long as you get along well with each other and you are prepared to fight for your team-mates, it will never be a problem.”