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WHEATON, ILLINOIS (VN) — Clara Honsinger (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld) dominated the 2021 USAC national cyclocross championships from the first lap, to defend the title she earned two years ago.
“I’ll be honest, I put a lot of pressure on myself coming into this race to win, and so to accomplish it and just nail it — smooth and steady — it’s such a good feeling,” Honsinger said. “It’s like we hit the goal — bullseye!”
Raylin Nuss (Steve Tilford Foundation Racing) and Sonny Gilbert (Blue Competition Cycles p/b Build) took second place and third place, respectively, and earned valuable UCI points, which may contribute to selection for the Fayetteville, Arkansas world championship team.
Gilbert won the single-speed national championships just 24 hours before again stepping on the podium, while Nuss was coming off a win at the Pan American championships just several weeks prior.
The 2020 national championships were canceled due to COVID-19 precautions, allowing Honsinger to wear the jersey she won in 2019 for an additional year.
In the first of five laps, Honsinger sat in sixth position, but halfway through the nearly 12-minute circuit, she gapped the bunch and never looked back. She built an insurmountable lead on the drying, but still technically challenging course that suited powerful and riders skilled in slick conditions.
Three dozen women started the championship race west of Chicago.
Pit crews were busy with riders swapping bikes nearly every lap. The course had been dry and temperatures hovering around freezing for races earlier in the week, but a change in weather moved into the region on Saturday, following heavy rain on Friday night and blustery winds on Saturday that did not quite dry the course.
2021 USA Cycling elite national championship women’s results
- Clara Honsinger (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld), 47:42
- Raylin Nuss (Steve Tilford Foundation Racing), 50:58
- Sonny Gilbert (Blue Competition Cycles p/b Build), 51:05
- Hannah Arensman (Sycamore Cycles), 51:07
- Anna Megale (Trek Cyclocross Collective), 52:53
Women’s U23 national championship
In the under-23 championship event, 2021 collegiate national champion Katie Clouse (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) took the win ahead of Madigan Munro (Trek Factory Racing) and Lizzy Gunsalus (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld).
Clouse won the collegiate race on Thursday, and the multi-time national champion kept the momentum going Sunday.
The course was greasy in spots, with several riders going down on off-camber corners.
“I just tried to ride the smoothest race and I think technically that helped me a lot,” said Clouse.
Clouse will head off to Europe on Monday for a block of racing before she returns home to prepare for the world championships.
Lauren Zoerner (Alpha Bicycle Co) got the hole shot and lead for the first lap, but then Clouse took over with Munro trailing. Over the following laps she extended her lead over Munro to 79 seconds by the end of the race.
Munro made her second podium appearance, after finishing in third in the collegiate event. She had suffered mechanical and tire troubles on Thursday but rode a relatively straightforward race in the U23 event. Like many riders, she took a spill in the mud and swapped bikes.
“A lot of bad luck in the first couple of laps but then it kind of got a lot better after that,” Munro said.
- Katie Clouse (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com), 47:29
- Madigan Munro (Trek Factory Racing), 48:38
- Lizzy Gunsalus (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com), 50:33
- Lauren Zoerner (Alpha Bicycle-Groove Silverthorne), 52:03
- Cassidy Hickey, 52:42
Women’s junior 17-18 national championship
The women’s junior 17-18 championship event was won by Katherine Sarkisov (CXHairs Devo-Trek Bikes) in 47:58. Keira Bond (Boulder Junior Cycling) came through at 49 seconds back, and Kaya Mugrave (Bear National/WCX) was third.