Clara Honsinger had a September to Remember capped by a third-place finish at the Jingle Cross World Cup, but with the U.S. World Cups in the rearview and Pan-Ams the next big target, it is time to look forward.
Honsinger showed her big first month of the season was no fluke during the recent FayetteCross weekend. She finished on another podium in third on Saturday and then took her first win of the season in Sunday’s mudder.
We chatted with Honsinger about FayetteCross and her winning weekend.
For more from FayetteCross, see our interviews with Day 1 winners Maghalie Rochette and Kerry Werner.
Clara Honsinger; 2019 FayetteCross Day 2 Winner
Cyclocross Magazine: You were racing with the USA Cycling National Team for the weekend? What’s the background on taking advantage of that opportunity?
Clara Honsinger: Fayetteville was not on Team S&M’s race calendar, and I am staying through the week in Bentonville for the Team USA Cyclocross camp, so USA Cycling was able to support me as one of the National Team/Development Team riders for the weekend.
CXM: What was your motivation for racing at FayetteCross? How does it fit in your plans for this part of the season?
CH: Originally it was not part of the plan, but StarCrossed in Washington was canceled, and I wanted another race weekend on the calendar. I’ll be in Boulder this weekend.
CXM: My understanding is the course completely changed from Saturday to Sunday. Do you change your approach at all when those conditions present themselves?
CH: Yes. On a dry, hot day, I prefer to sit in a bit more and save energy early in the race. On Sunday, it was important to be at the front as soon as possible to avoid getting tangled up with other riders. I metered my effort, but I didn’t sit on any wheels for more than a moment.
CXM: How did your race play out in your win on Sunday?
CH: It was kind of a wild start. The holeshot group was quickly swallowed up by the rest of the race as we hit the heavy and slow mud, and the top 4riders were suddenly out of the top 10. I eventually made my way to the front by the first half lap and was going back and forth with Mani and Jackson. I was able to ride a bit further through a heavy mud section and jump off the bike quickly, which gave me a gap going into the second lap. I managed to maintain it for the rest of the race.
CXM: What were the keys to winning for you?
CH: Line choice. The regular race lines were deep and slow, but there was still some grass on the outside lines. I just focused on going with the green and only caught a few course stakes!
CXM: What specifically about racing in the muddy, heavy conditions suits your skills?
CH: I think I have a strong engine for those slow steady efforts and am quick to adapt to changing conditions.
CXM: What does finally getting a win after so many podiums this season mean for you?
CH: I’m always stoked to be on the podium with these riders but to finish on top is really satisfying and motivating to finish even higher.
CXM: What did you think of the course and venue two years out from Worlds?
CH: Hopefully they will figure out the entry road and parking situation—there were a lot of stuck sprinter vans. The Worlds course will be routed very differently, but this weekend gave some good insight into what the soil is like (rocky!) and how it rides in dry and wet conditions.
CXM: Maghalie was untouchable early in the season, but you’ve topped her 2 of the last 3 races now. How do you think the weekend will affect the CX Heat Check rankings?
CH: Hmmmmm, the Heat Check algorithm is beyond my simple human computations.