As part of a series entitled ‘Faces of the Future’, we’re taking a look at the personalities, ambitions, and palmares of some of the young and talented cyclists you might not know much about, but you’ll be hearing lots about.
In this edition of our Faces of the Future series, we’d like you to meet Cervélo-Bigla’s youngest rider, Clara Koppenburg. The 20-year-old German made her debut as a pro cyclist in 2015 after clipping in for her first-ever amateur road race only two years prior. She’s making steady progress as a rider and played a vital role to get Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio to second place in the Aviva Women’s Tour.
Here are six fun facts about this up-and-coming rider:
1) Koppenburg combines her cycling career with a study in Sport Sciences
“In my opinion, Sport Sciences is the perfect study for professional athletes, because you learn exactly the physiological background of an athlete, and you better understand the processes of the body,” she said.
“In subjects like exercise science or sports psychology too, I learn a lot that I can transfer to my sport.”
Being a student and an athlete can be tough, said Koppenburg, who at times faces being thrown out of a class because of a 100% mandatory attendance rule.
“Some lecturers do understand and let me balance my absence through doing some extra assignments,” she said.
If all goes well, Koppenburg should be completing her bachelor’s degree in October.
2) Koppenburg enjoys many sports and cycling is only a recent love
In addition to cycling, Koppenburg has been active in a lot of sports, including rowing, basketball, athletics, volleyball and cross-country skiing. In fact, she ran a half marathon in London just a few weeks ago with her sister because why not?
“I have done athletics for years, but I also did other sports throughout my youth, such as basketball, football, horse-riding etc. When I was 17 years old, I was sidelined from athletics training with an injury and my dad persuaded me to take up cycling.”
Being introduced to mountain biking, Koppenberg immediately loved the freedom of the bike and enjoyed riding through the Black Forest. “Also, just spending time with my dad was fantastic.”
In February 2014, Koppenburg joined a cycling club on training camp, which was an absolute highlight for her. “I learned all these things about descending, how you do interval training. A girl told me that she raced. Two months later, I participated in my first bike race and knew that this was what I wanted to keep on doing.”
A year later, Thomas Campana contacted the young German rider to join his Bigla Pro Cycling team and she has been a professional cyclist ever since.
3) Nicknamed ‘Rambo’ in 2015, Koppenburg is tough as nails
This little anecdote got her the nickname ‘Rambo’, when she crashed heavily in the Czech stage race Gracia Orlova. She managed to finish the stage race with a 54th spot in the GC.
4) She was a UNICEF JuniorAmbassador as a 14-year-old
With over 33,000 people entering the UNICEF campaign, Koppenburg and her friends took the coveted UNICEF children’s rights prize in 2009, earning themselves the title of UNICEF JuniorAmbassador when Koppenburg was only 14 years old.
Koppenberg and her friends called in the help of a 30-member group and invited all schools in the district, youth organizations and celebrities, to a large children’s rights festival.
“With monthly promotions we drew attention to children’s rights, in order to improve the lives of children worldwide. Due to time constraints because of studies and sports, I unfortunately had to withdraw from the group, but when time permits I will start to help out again.”
It shows the social involvement this young German rider has had from an early age.
5) When she retires from cycling, Koppenburg wants to start teaching and open up her own café
Koppenburg doesn’t leave anything to chance and, in addition to wanting to start a small and happy family, she already has three ‘master plans’ for when she retires from cycling:
- Pursue training as a sports scientist and work in this field.
“I might use my degree to remain active in the cycling world, maybe as a coach.”
- Study to be a teacher and become a sports teacher, teacher in biology and/or Latin.
“I have always enjoyed school very much and could image myself being a teacher.”
- Open up my own café.
“Some sort of sports café, with healthy treats, good coffee and weekly cycling trips. I have been dreaming of this for quite a while now, because I really like to bake and cook. My sister would take care of the interior design and the business side.”
6) Not having a professional win to her name yet, Koppenburg aims for a time trial win in the future
“My biggest goal is to win a Women’s WorldTour race once, or participate in the Olympics.”
Until she gets there, she wants to continue celebrating successes with her team and achieve some smaller goals herself. “I would love to win a time trial in the future.”
Follow Clara Koppenburg and her team Cervélo-Bigla on social media: