Polish sprinter Daria Pikulik notched her first podium since winning the opening race of the 2023 Women’s WorldTour in January today, placing second at Leiedal Koerse.
Pikulik, ever the competitor, walked away from the podium presentation wanting more.
“This was not the result we hoped for. Maybe that’s just because I always wanna win! We came to this race to try and get a victory, so it’s a little disappointing. For me it’s ok, a good result – I had a lot of bad luck and a lot of crashes so far this year, but now I feel like I’ve come back to myself, I feel much better right now than in the first part of the season.”
Indeed, it has been a year filled with misfortune for Pikulik, who says she’s destroyed four helmets so far this season in crashes, and “quite a lot of clothing”.
She also sees plenty of positives in the way the team raced at Leiedal.
“We tried to do the race as hard as we could, and to pull it out on the climb. We were successful in that, getting four girls into the breakaway.”
This elite selection went away very early in the race, and at no point looked like being caught once a healthy gap was established. The other three Human Powered Health Cycling riders were Lily Williams, Jesse Vandenbulcke and Nina Buijsman who all also secured top ten finishes.
The race was ultimately won by Julia Kopecky, who clipped off the front with not much of the stage left to go, with Pikulik winning the sprint for second.
“We made a mistake, one girl went in the last two kilometers before the finish line. I started my sprint, but it wasn’t enough. I think despite that we can be really proud. We did a good race, a really good job.”
Pikulik was keen to thank her teammates, but also the support staff and sponsors of the team – after putting her recent rocky patch behind her.
“I wanna say a big thanks to all the girls and the staff and sponsors for the work they put in so far in this part of the season. I wanna thank them for still believing in me!”
There’s more still to come, she finished.
“I believe that we can win a lot more races in this season!”
Images graciously supplied by Brent Peeters.