Clara Koppenburg explains why 2017 has been her best year
We catch up with Clara Koppenburg who has just spent two weeks training in Mallorca with her family in this first edition of a series of Q&A’s we will be doing over the next few weeks. In the interview below, you will learn why Clara feels this has been her best year so far and what happened on the finish line of the German national championships.
How are things going?
It has been great. I’ve been in Mallorca and had 10 days from my coach to do whatever I wanted on the bike. It’s a nice free feeling because during the season you have a lot of very important training to do but now I just went out and enjoyed the bike and just kept riding and riding. Afterwards, I’d come back and spend time with the family so it’s going well.
As a professional cyclist, how does it feel to be on the bike when you don’t have to follow a set training plan?
I always enjoy riding my bike. I love training. You can go so far on the bike and see so much and take another road and another climb, I just really like it. Here in Mallorca, there are so many people riding and sometimes they came ride next to you and talk to you. It’s really nice.
Do they ask you about being a professional or do they think you’re just a tourist?
They always have questions because when they ride behind me, they always see the metal placeholder for my race number under my saddle. That’s something normal bikes don’t have so they are not used to it. I have to explain that I race my bike for a living and that’s where my race number goes. They always say ‘you’re so lucky to have this as a job’ and I agree with them. They have to take holidays to come to Mallorca and ride their bikes for 10 days when I can do this the whole year. It’s pretty nice.
Do you sometimes take your job for granted or do you always appreciate it?
98% of the time I appreciate it but there are the days when you’re tired and don’t feel like training but most of the time I really love it.
So what gets you out of the door when you really don’t feel like training?
When you don’t feel like it, I know that is the most important training to do. Afterwards, you are always proud of that training ride. After half an hour on the bike it always gets nice and you start enjoying it.
How do you feel your season has gone?
It has gone really well. It was a steady season for me. The last years I struggled to hold my form throughout the year, I was always up and down. This year was pretty steady and I feel like I could do a really good job for the team and for myself. In training, I always test myself on the same climb every six or eight weeks and I constantly improved my time and watts over the whole year which is nice to see. At the end of the season I didn’t feel tired and for me, it’s good to see I can be strong for a whole season.
Do you have any highlights from the season?
It was definitely the team time trial in the world championships. Standing on the podium with the girls was the best way to end the season. I was so happy afterwards.
Obviously, it’s nice to stand on the podium but do you think the result meant more to you because you were a reserve last year and worked really hard to make the team this year?
I think so. It was my goal to make the TTT team. Last year it was really hard to sit in the following car and not be in the race. I told myself I have to be there next year. To be there this year was amazing. It’s so much nicer to be on the bike than in the car. You’re a racer and you want to fight for it on the bike. It’s hard to watch from the sidelines. Qatar was a very fast and flat course but in Norway the course was up and down with a lot of corners so it was a more interesting race to be part of.
Are there other results that stand out this season that you’re happy to be part of?
In the road race in Sweden we did a really good team effort then Lotta won which made the whole day special. That was really nice. Valencia at the beginning of the season was also nice because we dominated the whole race with only 5 riders. We had so many cards to play because we had Marie, Ashleigh and Cille then also Gaby and me as really good workers. It was awesome to start the season with a victory like that. That was pretty cool. The German championships road race was also amazing. I’ve never cried after a race before but there I had to. We didn’t even know if Lisa had won but we just hugged each other and cried because we were so happy with the job we had done. We gave everything for each other and then to find out she got the victory was just amazing.