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Saturday’s cyclocross world championships might have appeared like a Dutch team time trial across the sands of Ostende, Belgium, with five riders from The Netherlands finishing in the top 6.
The disruptor? America’s Clara Honsinger (Cannondale Cyclocrossworld).
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The U.S. national champion paced an excellent race across the challenging course, and single-handedly tried to knock the Dutch off their game. She came away with fourth, just 33 seconds off the podium.
“Today’s race was a huge challenge between the sand and the cold rain, but difficult conditions suit me well,” said Honsinger, at 52 seconds behind winner Lucinda Brand. “I rode a steady race and continued to catch riders.”
After shining in the abbreviated World Cup season, Honsinger defended well against the Dutch onslaught, and was 13th in the early going, and patiently started picking off riders. With two laps to go, Honsinger solidified her hold on the top-5, and was the only rider at the front of the race not decked out in the distinctive Dutch jerseys.
“Clara rode a really good race. She put in a very solid first lap and put herself in a good position early in the race,” said Jesse Anthony, USA Cycling cyclocross manager. “The front three riders separated themselves early, and Clara did a great job moving forward through the field to mount her chase for the podium. She rode consistent laps and minimized mistakes, which was one of the keys today.”
Joining Honsinger on Team USA in the 39-starter elite women’s race were 15-time U.S. champion Katie Compton (KFC Racing/Trek/Knight Composites), Rebecca Fahringer (Kona/Maxxis/Shimano), and Kaitie Keough (Cannondale Cyclocrossworld). Compton finished 21st, with Fahringer 23rd. Keough was 35th.
Saturday’s ride capped a strong cyclocross campaign for Honsinger, who joins Tibco-SVB for the upcoming road season.
“It feels extremely satisfying to finish the season with a fourth-place finish at worlds,” she said. “I’m looking forward to some rest but extremely motivated for next year.”
Racing continues Sunday the U23 Women and Elite Men’s event. Madigan Munro (Trek Factory Racing) and Curtis White (Cannondale Cyclocrossworld) will riding for the U.S. team.