Clara Copponi sprints to podium finish in UAE Tour Stage 2

A boost of confidence for the French rider in her first race with Lidl-Trek

The satisfaction of having fought all the way to the line for the best possible result is palpable among the Lidl-Trek riders after the finish line in Madinat Zayed, site of the UAE Tour Stage 2 finish. In the spotlight is Clara Copponi, on her second day of competition with Lidl-Trek, who managed to place third in the sprint behind Wiebes (SDWorx) and Consonni (UAE Emirates).

Copponi, on the left, sprinting with Wiebes and Consonni (©GettyImages)

For the French rider it is a respectable result, considering the caliber of the opponents she had to compete against. At the same time, for the Team it is an important sign of confidence. Elynor Bäckstedt’s DNS before the start of the race left a significant void in team workload, especially for the sprints, but the motivation amongst the Team to achieve a strong sprint result was enough to overcome the difficulties.

Thanks to the work of the Team to position her well ahead of the sprint, Copponi was able to unleash all her power and claim her first podium of the season for Lidl-Trek. The result serves as a strong motivation for the Lidl-Trek women on the eve of the Queen Stage, with the summit finish on Jebel Hafeet on the horizon.

Lisa Klein leading Elisa Longo Borghini and Clara Copponi in the peloton (©GettyImages)

The day in Clara’s words

I’m very happy for this podium. That’s my first race with Team, my second racing day: that’s the start I was looking for. I know the Team believe in me as a rider able to fight for top results. I was excited to start the season with Lidl-Trek and I really wanted to leave a mark here: this podium is a step forward for me. I know that for me it’s not easy to fight in stages like this, suited for pure sprinters. But I did my best and the Team did too. Thanks to my teammates: it’s a good day for us.

Copponi protected by Longo Borghini at the head of the peloton (@GettyImages)

Yesterday’s sprint in Dubai left me some disappointment, I was not really able to sprint and fight for a result,  so today it was a good chance to try again. We did a very good job as a Team throughout the whole stage. We raced together, we did very well in positioning and keeping everyone safe.

I asked my teammates to take SD Worx as our reference for the finale, Wiebes is definitely the strongest sprinter in the peloton. We come up in the front in the right moment, and it was a good choice having headwind in the final, long straight to the line. We were patient, I stayed covered and then I was able to sprint full gas.

Stages like this may look easy for someone watching from outside, but they are definitely not. Just after the start there was a split in the peloton due to echelons and it took an effort to come back. Then, approaching the sprint, the level of stress was really high: everyone wanted to stay in the front to keep the sprinters in the best position. It’s hard to explain what happened in that moment, it’s more about relying on instinct and your teammates, because a crash can happen in any moment.

Racing through the desert (@GettyImages)