Clara Koppenburg secured her first victory of the season, and for her new WNT-Rotor squad, on stage 3 of the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana on Saturday. In a premonition of sorts, Koppenburg dreamt that she won her first race the evening before the queen stage 3 that included a summit finish to Xorret de Cati.
"I had a dream last night that I won my first bike race, I went to breakfast, and I told the girls – I said, 'girls I just dreamt I won my first bike race' and they asked if it was in a sprint or something, and I said, 'no solo.' I don’t know why I dreamt that, but I just can’t believe it what has happened today, I am so happy," Koppenburg said in her team blog post following the stage.
Koppenburg was first to the summit of the Xorret de Cati and took the win ahead of Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (CCC Liv), while breakaway rider Soraya Paladin (Ale Cipollini) hung on for third. She said her team played a perfect tactical race by having teammate Claudia Koster part of a 13-rider breakaway ahead of the final ascent.
"It was pretty tough, the girls did an amazing job, they all did a crazy lead out into the final climb," Koppenburg said. "Claudia was in a 13-rider breakaway before, which was super good for us, so I had the best position going into the climb. It was just suffering until the top, and at one point, I was able to accelerate a little bit, and saw I was in the lead, so I just kept my head down, I kept going and never looked back, then I just won."
The third stage of the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana was a toughest of the four-day race featuring 110km from La Nucia to the summit finish to the top of Xorret de Cati, four kilometres with pitches as steep as 20 per cent.
"The other girls [Sarah Rijkes, Lara Vieceli, Aafke Soet] did a perfect lead out, on the climb we just had to see how Erica [Magnaldi], Ane [Santesteban] and I would be and to make sure we have as many of us in the front group. The plan worked perfectly," she said.
"I made my attack with 2km to go, but I knew the climb already because I rode it during our training camp in Calpe, I knew what to expect."
Koppenburg leads the overall classification by 43 seconds ahead of Paladin and 48 seconds ahead of Moolman-Pasio.