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Cyclocross

Clara Honsinger wins GP Jolien Verschueren

US national champion tops the podium at cobbled 'cross classic previously known as the Koppenbergcross.

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U.S. national champion Clara Honsinger (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) won the 2021 GP Jolien Verschueren.

“I counted down the laps,” an overwhelmed Honsinger said after the finish. “I descended well and the climb suited me well. This is nice, but this season I am fully aiming for the world championships in the USA.”

Honsinger, 24, was fifth at the 2021 UCI Cyclocross World Cup Overijse the previous day, won by Kata Blanka Vas.

On the first lap, the defending champion Annemarie Worst tried to get a gap along with Denise Betsema (777). They were chased by Vas, world champion Lucinda Brand (Trek-Baloise Lions), 2020 world champion Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Alpecin-Fenix), and Honsinger.

The rain-soaked, muddy course made tough going for Honsinger, Brand, Alvarado, Worst, and others, who slipped in the thick mud, and varied and steep terrain. But after regaining her rhythm, Honsigner distanced Betsema at the start of the third lap.

Betsema was able to make up some of the gap to Honsinger, but was never able to bring back the strong American, who padded her lead on the final lap, using the Koppenberg climb to distance herself from her pursuers.

The women’s Koppenbergcross cyclocross race was recently rebranded as the Grand Prix Jolien Verschueren in honor of the Belgian ‘crosser who died this summer.

The course features a cobbled climb with a maximum 22 percent grade, which features prominently in the Tour of Flanders.

Betsema, who finished fourth and 11 seconds ahead of Honsinger on the previous day, commented on how challenging the GP Jolien Verschueren course was.

“It was very tough. don’t think I can compare this to any other cross,” Betsema said. “The victory was possible and I would have liked to have won for my deceased former teammate Jolien Verschueren, but Clara was really stronger. She climbed faster.”

While not part of the UCI Cyclocross World Cup series, it annually attracts top talent as part of the X2O Trofee series. Annemarie Worst won the 2020 edition of the women’s race, and Eli Iserbyt won the previous two editions of the men’s race.

2021 Grand Prix Jolien Verschueren Women’s Elite Podium

  1. Clara Honsinger (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com)
  2. Denise Betsema (777), at :11
  3. Kata Blanka Vas (SD Worx), at :34