The Netherlands swept the podium in the elite women’s race at the Cyclo-Cross World Championships, but Clara Honsinger (USA) proved the best of the rest as she rode to 4th place in Ostend on Saturday.
Honsinger came to the Worlds buoyed by her displays in the shortened World Cup series this winter. The 23-year-old placed second in the Namur and Dendermonde World Cups, eventually placing 4th overall in the series.
She produced a well-gauged effort in the sand of Ostend on Saturday, picking her way through the field after the Dutch squad tore the race apart early on. While eventual world champion Lucinda Brand, Annemarie Worst and Denise Betsema proved out of reach, Honsinger overhauled defending champion Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado on the final lap to come home in 4th, 52 seconds behind Brand.
“Today’s race was a huge challenge between the sand and the cold rain, but difficult conditions suit me well,” Honsinger said. “I rode a steady race and continued to catch riders. It feels extremely satisfying to finish the season with a fourth-place finish at Worlds. I’m looking forward to some rest but extremely motivated for next year.”
Honsinger was the only non-Dutch rider in the top 6 on Saturday, and her displays this winter mark a further step forward after she ended Katie Compton’s 15-year winning streak at the US National Championships in December 2019. Compton was also in action in Ostend, placing 21st.
USA Cycling cyclo-cross manager Jesse Anthony paid tribute to Honsinger’s pacing on a demanding Ostend course.
“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. 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,” said Anthony. “She rode consistent laps and minimized mistakes, which was one of the keys today.”
Honsinger, who races for Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld Pro Cycling, will compete on the road in the colours of Tibo-SVB in 2021.