by Kyle Moore
Emma White (Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld) and Katie Clouse (Alpha Bicycle Co. – Groove Subaru) both rode away as American cyclocross champions on Sunday morning in Reno, confirming what ’cross crystal-ballers believe ahead of time. After taking both of the lower steps on the podium in previous attempts, White took the top step and the gold medal in Reno after riding a dominant race.
Clouse had accomplished both of her objectives by the time she hit the finish line, riding away to the Junior title while also finishing in the top three overall in the combined U23 and Junior women’s race. Clouse battled back and forth on course with Clara Honsinger (Team S&M CX), and Honsinger, who also finished second in the Pan-American Championships in November, took the silver medal in Reno.
Both White and Clouse came into Sunday’s race with high expectations and both delivered impressive performances.
White From the Whistle
White wasted no time in stamping her authority firmly onto the field. She was the lone rider able to hop the ditch on the first lap, while the other riders went over on foot.
Behind White, the morning frost near the barriers proved treacherous, as Honsinger and Emma Swartz (Trek Cyclocross Collective) each wiped out on a series of 180-degree turns. Their misfortune put both at an early disadvantage.
After one lap, White already had a sizable lead, while Clouse led over Honsinger. White’s lead expanded when the two lead chasers got bogged down in the sand pit. Two laps into the race White had 30 seconds on the two chasers. Behind Honsinger and Clouse, Swartz and Shannon Mallory (Northwest Women’s Cyclocross Program) tried their best to close the gap back to the podium positions.
Two National Titles in One
White exhibited canny race strategy that paired well with her dominant legs. She dismounted and sprinted the sand section on lap three, while behind her, her chasers struggled. Honsinger turned the tables on Clouse in the sandy segment. She had already taken a handful of seconds on the Junior rider, and she mastered her third trip through the sand, while Clouse struggled in the section. Honsinger now had a comfortable gap for second.
White’s armor showed its first blemish as she snaked down the Shimano hill. With her rear brakes locked coming off the final turn, she slid out as she accelerated again, but as she even bobbled her remount somewhat, the veteran U23 rider kept her composure. She hit the finish line to begin her penultimate lap with still more than a half-minute in hand. Clouse continued to track Honsinger for second place, while consolidating her lead in the simultaneous Junior race.
As White dismounted and climbed the Shimano hill for the fourth of five times, a wide shot revealed the full focus of her dominant display. She took the bell for her fifth and final lap with an expanded gap of 40 seconds. Honsinger sped out of the final turn and hit the line with still 15 seconds over Clouse. Swartz had fourth place to herself, and Hannah Arensman (J.A. King p/b BRC Women’s Cycling) crossed in fifth as the final lap began.
There were no changes in the race order during the final lap. Emma White rolled across and celebrated her National Championship.
White said she was okay with the pre-race pressure of being the favorite. “I’m a pretty competitive person, so I put a lot of pressure on myself,” she said. “I had all the support I could ask for to make it possible for me to win. I’m very fortunate for that and I’m happy to be able to deliver.”
Honsinger finished second to cap what was arguably a breakout year for the young rider.
Clouse finished third overall and was the first Junior rider to cross the line.
Clouse said she accomplished her goal of staying with White and Honsinger. “It was definitely expecting Emma to go out super fast and my plan was to stay with Emma as long as I could but not blow myself up,” she said. “Once Emma started really going, I kind of held back a bit and rode with Clara. Then it was her and me for most of the race.”
Swartz finished fourth and Mallory completed an impressive ride in fifth.
Petra Schmidtmann (Van Dessel) finished seventh overall and second among the Junior riders. Ava Lilley (Bend Endurance Academy) finished behind her in ninth overall and third among the Juniors.
U23 Women's Results: 2018 Reno Cyclocross Nationals
|1||101||WHITE||Emma||Cannondale pb Cyclocrossworld.c||45:04|
|2||103||HONSINGER||Clara||Washington State Bicycle Associ||45:37||33|
|3||102||**CLOUSE||Katie||Alpha Bicycle Co.- Groove Subar||46:02||58|
|4||104||SWARTZ||Emma||Trek Cyclocross Collective||46:55||1:51|
|5||108||MALLORY||Shannon||Northwest Womens Cyclocross Pro||47:11||2:07|
|7||110||**SCHMIDTMANN||Petra||Van Dessel Factory Team||48:32||3:28|
|8||107||SANTOS||Katherine||Amy D. Foundation||48:38||3:34|
|9||121||**LILLEY||Ava||Bend Endurance Academy||48:40||3:36|
|14||142||**MITCHELL||Ellie||Northwest Womens Cyclocross Pro||49:48||4:44|
|16||144||LUNDBERG||Kelsay||Fort Lewis College||50:20||5:16|
|17||131||MRUGAL||Allison||Rensselaer Polytechnic Institut||51:05||6:01|
|19||133||O'NEILL||Cara||El Grupo Cycling||51:52||6:48|
|20||128||BEATTY||Alijah||NorthStar Development Cycling||52:08||7:04|
|22||130||**GIZINSKI||Hayden||Northwest Womens Cyclocross Pro||52:21||7:17|
|23||111||**RAMSAY||Turner||Alpha Bicycle Co.- Groove Subar||52:28||7:24|
|24||127||**MORRISSEY||Rosemary||Boulder Junior Cycling||53:12||8:08|
|26||138||**SAVAGE||Anna||Northampton Cycling Club||@1Lap|
|27||136||**O'BRIEN||Abbey||Midwest Cycling Women's Cycling||@1Lap|
|30||139||**GALLAGHER||Riley||J.A. King p/b BR'C||@1Lap|
|31||143||WELCH||Chloe||El Grupo Youth Cycling||@2Lap|
|33||123||**MACDONALD||Ciara||Rad Racing NW||@2Lap|
For more from Reno, see our continuing coverage of the 2018 Reno Cyclocross Nationals on our dedicated Nationals page.
Photos from the races and reports are available to license here, with more to be added throughout the next week.