Clara Honsinger carries Koppenberg kudos into X2O Trofee leadership defense

American champ carries slim seven-second lead in the X2O cyclocross series ahead of Saturday's race in Kortrijk.

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Clara Honsinger won big at the prestigious Koppebergcross earlier this month, and now she’s going to go all-in to defend her lead in the X2O Trofee series this weekend.

The X2O cyclocross series heads to Kortrijk on Saturday and Honsinger is nursing just a seven-second lead over the chasing Denise Betsema.

After crushing the competition on the iconic Koppenberg circuit at the turn of the month, the American national champ is straining at the leash ahead of the beaches and bridges on tap in Kortrijk this weekend.

“It won’t be easy to keep that first place,” she said in a race organizer’s press release. “I perform better on tough courses and courses with many altimeters, such as in Herentals later. However, I am looking forward to challenging myself on the technical course in Kortrijk, I see it as an opportunity to learn and improve to become.”

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Honsinger backed up her marquee victory on the Koppenberg with four finishes in the top-13 in Superprestige and World Cup races in the past month. After relishing a breakout first full European season last winter, the 24-year-old is bringing an all-new confidence into her winter schedule.

“I feel much more comfortable. [Last winter] I was a bit intimidated by the competition, every race I saw how strong they were, Honsinger said. “This season I feel more respect, I feel more involved. I am more relaxed.”

Honsinger won the most fitting of trophies when she topped the podium at the Koppenbergcross, now known as the GP Jolien Verschueren. While her cobblestone prize adds weight to her budding palmarès, she’s also worried about the weight it will add to her luggage for the flight back to Portland.

“I still find it hard to believe that I won that race,” she said. “It was my first win in Belgium and then such an iconic cross in front of a fantastic crowd. That means so much more to me than any victory in the United States.

“I just don’t know how to take the trophy home yet. It will be a challenge to find a good solution. Maybe I should send that cobblestone by post. It won’t be cheap, but that trophy is priceless for me. I never want to lose it.”

Nice trophy – but it’s heavy. (Photo: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)