Wheels Roundup: Kopecky May Skip Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift & Other News

By Siegfried Mortkowitz

Reigning world road race champion Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx) may sit out this year’s Tour de France Femmes (TdFF) to concentrate on the Paris Summer Olympics. Speaking to the press recently, she said, “First I [will] focus on the Classics because those are also very important to me. I just hope that I can make a good Classics season and just go with good vibes towards this buildup to the Olympics.”

The TdFF will be run from August 12 to 18, while the Olympics take place from July 26 to August 11. Because she is targeting both track events and the road race in Paris, the TdFF may come too soon for her to recover full fitness after Paris. Women’s Olympics track events take place from August 5 to 12 and the women’s road race will be run on August 4. “I think with the combination of track and road I already proved that this is something I can do, and it doesn’t really affect track or road races for me,” she said. Kopecky has won six track world championships, including two last year, and six European track championships, including two earlier this month.

“I’ll finish the Classics season in Liège and after that, I’ll really make a completely detailed program towards the Olympics,” Kopecky said. “And the Tour de France is just right after. That’s also something we will discuss later, if I will do the Tour de France or not.”

Two-time world road race champion Julian Alaphilippe has called into question his future with his Soudal-QuickStep team, and even suggested he may retire from cycling next year. “To be honest, I don’t know where I will be next year, if I continue in the team [or] if I continue cycling, I don’t know,” the 31-year-old French rider told GCN. Alaphilippe was one of the favorites to win the recent Santos Tour Down Under but, though he featured at the front in several stages, ultimately finished sixth, 33 seconds behind the winner, Stephen Williams (Israel–Premier Tech.

But he was not disappointed. “I saw the result of a good feeling,” Alaphilippe said. “Simply, I came here with the ambition to see how I feel and I was realistic with my ambition about results, because I knew what I did during the winter. I was surprised that I can fight with the best guys until the top of the climb. It is a good surprise, to be honest.”

Julien Alaphilippe
Alaphilippe at the 2024 Santos Tour Down Under. © Profimedia

Alaphilippe has been beset by accidents and illness over the last two years and came under criticism from team boss Patrick Lefevere, who said, among other things, “I understand his illnesses and falls, but you can’t keep hiding behind that.”

The Frenchman is in the last year of his contract and his lack of recent success – only two WorldTour victories since his second World Championship Road Race win in 2021 – and his boss’s criticism has led to speculation that they will part ways in 2025. If he leaves the team or retires, he wants to do it in style – and, surprisingly, not at the Tour de France but at the Giro d’Italia, which he has not yet raced. A stage victory would make him a member of the club of racers who have won stages in all three Grand Tours.

“I have the dream to win a stage [at the Giro], he admits, but adds: “To be honest, I don’t think about the Giro yet. I just know that it will be nice because it is something that I will prepare [for] and give my best. I take it race after race.”

Tadej Pogačar (UAE Emirates) will not be the only former Grand Tour winner to ride this year in both the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia. The 2018 Tour winner Geraint Thomas (INEOS Grenadiers) has confirmed that he will ride in both races this year. “I really wanted to go back to the Giro after last year and give it one big go, and obviously the Tour, I didn’t like missing it last year. So I’m going to try and stay on it and go into the Tour,” Thomas told Matt Stevens on Instagram.

The 37-year-old Welshman will want to erase the disappointment of last year’s Giro, when he lost his GC lead on the stage 20 time trial to Primož Roglič (who raced then for Jumbo-Visma), losing the GC by 14 seconds. “It’s going to be a massive challenge because I’ve never done it before,” the Welshman admitted. “I did it in ’17 but crashed out of both, so hopefully it will be a bit better than that. It’s a big challenge, it’s my 18th year as a professional so I need to mix it up a bit, I find. It’s something which will certainly get me out of bed in the morning!”

He admitted that returning to the Giro had been “in the back of my mind since last year,” and added: “Then speaking to the team, they were still keen for me to go to the Tour. So then it was kind of just like, ‘Why don’t we just try and do both?’”