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Rally Cycling adds Clara Koppenburg, finalizes 2021 roster

Andrew Bajadali, who had been an assistant director with the Rally Cycling men's team, steps up to take on a bigger role with the women's squad.

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Rally Cycling announced it has added Clara Koppenburg to its 2021 team roster.

The talented German had been without a contract since when her team Équipe Paule Ka abruptly ceased operations during the 2020 season.

Koppenburg is the 11th and final addition to the team for the coming season.

“I’m super excited and motivated to join Rally Cycling,” said Koppenburg. “I just can’t wait to become part of the team. And I hope, I really really hope, that it will happen sooner rather than later.”

The team has indicated that Koppenburg is a natural climber and will contribute to the team’s general classification efforts.

Andrew Bajadali, who had been an assistant director with the Rally Cycling men’s team, steps up to take on a bigger role with the women’s squad. He’s enthusiastic about the latest addition to the team.

“Clara brings a world-class level of experience to our European ambitions which will open the door for many more opportunities, especially climbing-heavy races. Her results and ability speak for themselves, this combined with her outgoing positive personality and leadership qualities will make her a natural fit in an already fantastic lineup in 2021.”

Koppenburg won a bronze medal at the 2017 UCI world championships in the team time trial with Cervélo-Bigla Pro Cycling. In 2019, she won a stage and the overall title at Setmana Ciclista Valenciana; she returned to this race in 2020 to take second overall. At the 2019 Amgen Tour of California, Koppenburg finished fourth on the Mount Baldy stage, and ultimately finished in fourth overall.

Koppenburg’s future had been secure at Équipe Paule Ka, however, the team’s financial situation only worsened throughout the 2020 season due to sponsorship stresses from the COVID-19 pinch. And then, just days before the 2020 Tour of Flanders, the team announced it was folding. Bajadali reached out to Koppenburg about her options with the American-based squad.

“When Andrew called me, it was the longest minute I’ve ever experienced! He told me he’d talked to the big boss and about the budget – and I was just standing there shaking – and then he said, ‘Yeah, we want to sign you’. And oh my god, I totally freaked out. I was so so happy,” she said. “I’ve always told my closest friends and my parents that I really want to join an American team. I’ve always really liked Rally Cycling from the outside, so I’m totally happy and I’m not angry at all at my old team. It worked out in the end.”

Koppenburg has her sights set on a successful return to Valencia with Rally Cycling, as well as an appearance at the Colorado Classic.