Clara Honsinger ended the longest winning streak in the history of the U.S. Cyclocross National Championships on Sunday, beating 15-time champion Katie Compton to take the elite women’s national title.
“It’s a progression of cyclocross, it’s not a changing of the guard,” Honsinger said after the race. “We’re still out here racing together, it’s just a little switch up in what it’s been the last few years.”
Honsinger’s title came in her first season in the elite women’s category. Last year she won the Under-23 crown in decisive fashion.
The victory came after Honsinger, 22, fought a two-up battle with Rebecca Fahringer (Kona-Maxxis) for much of the 50-minute race.
Fahringer, the leader of USA Cycling’s Pro CX series, was the early aggressor, springing to the front of the women’s race from the gun alongside Compton. The two traded leads for the first half of the race, until Compton fell back and was passed by Honsinger.
Honsinger opened a gap on Fahringer on one of the course’s long, muddy run-up sections, and then widened her advantage after Fahringer bobbled on muddy off-camber descent.
Honsinger grew her lead for the remainder of the race, crossing the line with enough time to salute the crowd.
“Becca and I were warning up in the same tent today. It felt like we were teammates,” Honsinger said. “It took everything I had to hold her off.”
Fans across the Lakewood, Washington fans cheered for Honsinger and waved oversized images of her face (see photo) as she raced around the muddy course. Honsinger races out of Portland, Oregon, and said the national championship event felt like a home race.
“Riding through the tunnel and hearing my name was amazing,” Honsinger said. “It lit the fire to race on.”
Compton struggles on muddy course
Compton (KFC Racing-Trek-Knight) crossed the line in third place, slapping high-fives with fans as she rolled across the line. The 41-year-old Compton wiped tears from her eyes as she dismounted her bike.
The defeat marked the end of Compton’s storied 15-year winning streak at the U.S. cyclocross championships. Compton earned her first U.S. elite cyclocross title way back at the 2004 U.S. championships in Portland, Oregon.
“It’s pretty amazing. I’m pretty happy to win from [age] 25 to 40, that’s not too bad,” Compton said. “I knew it would end sometime and I would have liked to have gotten one more. I did what I could, and Clara and Becca were faster. What can you do?”
Compton’s winning streak spanned multiple generations of top U.S. riders, and over the years she battled against all-time greats such as Anne Grande, Georgia Gould, Amanda Miller, and Ellen Noble, amongst others.
“The competition is getting better and better,” Compton said. “And I’m starting to feel the efforts and the age.”
In previous years Compton has battled asthma and allergies in World Cup and domestic U.S. races. The 41-year-old didn’t attribute her loss to either ailment after the finish line.
She simply said that Honsinger and Fahringer were faster than her on the course.
“It was hard out there and I didn’t quite have the legs today,” Compton said. “It was such a hard course with the run-ups and the technical [sections] and it was super fast. Clara and Becca were really great and it’s great to see Clara take the win.
Compton now heads to Belgium for the next round of UCI World Cups and DVV Trophee races. She will finish her season in February. And for the first time in 16 years, she will not be wearing the national champion’s jersey.
“It’s hard to not have your best day, but it’s OK,” Compton said. “It’s good to see Clara and Becca riding as good as they are.”
2019 USA Cycling Elite Women’s National Cyclocross Championships
- Clara Honsinger, S&M/CX Sellwood), 50:16
- Rebecca Fahringer, Kona-Maxxis-Shimano, at 0:29
- Katie Compton, KFC Racing-Trek/Knight, at 1:20
- Courtenay McFadden, Pivot-Maxxis-Stans, at 2:05
- Kaitlin Keough, Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld, at 3:10
- Sunny Gilbert, Pactimo-Colorado Proud, at 4:16
- Samantha Runnels, Squid, at 4:22
- Caroline Nolan, Voler-Easton-HRS, at 4:30
- Amanda Nauman, SDG-Muscle Monster, at 4:32
- Catilin Bernstein, Eastin-Velocio, at 4:39