Team Belgium announced its Olympic cycling selection today. There are two Liv Racing riders selected: Valerie Demey and Lotte Kopecky. The latter is of course also on the list for the madison and the omnium (track cycling). Time to look ahead to the important sports summer with Lotte.
Was the Olympic road race always in your programme?
“At first, it was out of the question. But after I checked the course, I thought it was something for me. So I went to the road coach and put myself forward as a candidate. The road coach was happy about that. The road and track races are easy to combine, there are twelve days between them. In addition, my road programme at Liv Racing does not have to change in order to be fit for the road race. The most important thing is that I have to be ready to suffer that day.”
How big is the Olympic dream?
“It used to be my dream to go to the Games one day. I was not aware then that I would ever be in a position to have a chance of winning a medal. That dream only came as my level increased. We carefully mapped out a course for the madison and the omnium and now we have a real chance of making it to the top. It’s also nice that I can stick to my approach the way I want to. Liv Racing has given me a lot of space and I am very grateful to the team for that, because it is not always evident.”
What is your feeling at Liv Racing?
“A great team. The feeling has been perfect ever since we first met in a training camp in Spain. The riders click which creates a nice atmosphere. Liv Racing is a team where no one wants to make a name for herself. There is no one who thinks: I am better or more than the rest. You notice unity, the riders give everything for each other. When orders come from the team car, we follow them without hesitation. The best example is the Tour of Flanders. I had bad luck just before the Oude Kwaremont. Without a word or a doubt Soraya Paladin gave me her bike and sacrificed her chances. It seemed like normal. Those are things you remember. The fact that I will be riding for another team next year, where I might be able to make the next step in my career, does not diminish my good feeling with Liv Racing.”
Is defending the Belgian title a concrete goal?
“Let me say first of all that it is an honour to ride in the Belgian jersey – Cuore has made it a beautiful, classic design for this season. In that sense I would like to be successful again, but I have to admit that it doesn’t bother me if that doesn’t happen. There are so many goals this summer. And national championships are always unpredictable races. We ride on a flat course with short cobbled sections and a small slope. A lot of scenarios can happen. Hopefully it will work out in my favour.”
Liv recently presented its new Langma Disc. A nice moment for you too?
“Absolutely. We have been riding the Liv Langma Advanced SL Disc since the first training camp, cleverly painted in the team colours. We were not allowed to reveal too many details because the official presentation had not taken place yet, however much we wanted to. So now we can freely and openly say what a solid bike it is. Compared to all the bikes I have raced on before, it is at least two kilograms lighter. That is a huge difference. In addition, it is super all-round. It is not a specific sprint bike, nor a specific climb bike. The Liv Langma SL Disc is simply the best in all disciplines. The stiff CADEX wheels also make it look good.”
What does your programme look like after returning from Japan?
“There will be a very good, well-filled programme. There is still some doubt whether I will ride the Boels Ladies Tour or GP de Plouay. We will decide soon. After that there is already more clarity: the Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta, Paris-Roubaix, the Women’s Tour and the races in Drenthe. In between there are the European Championships and the World Championships. I must say that I am particularly looking forward to Paris-Roubaix. That will be a super nervous race. Riding cobblestones – you can either do it or not. I feel that’s something that fits me well. It’s the first edition for women. Hopefully it will be a spectacle as it often is with the men.”
Photo credits: Cor Vos