Clara Honsinger wins Koppenbergcross
(CyclingNews)US champion Clara Honsinger (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld) claimed victory in the women's Koppenbergcross on Monday with a commanding ride in muddy conditions.
The week's rainfall made for a heavy course, with the titular cobbled climb of the Koppenberg covered in a layer of mud and grease.
Honsinger emerged as the strongest on the brutally steep climb, made famous by the Tour of Flanders, with the finish line positioned at the top.
Despite an early crash, she tracked down the early pace-setter Betsema and then left her towards the end of the second lap. On the last two laps she held firm, consolidating her advantage on the uphill sections before taking a lead of 10 seconds onto the final lap. She didn't put a foot wrong from there and didn't falter on the brutal final ascent of the Koppenberg.
Clara and my son became friends in kindergarten or perhaps before as toddlers playing YMCA soccer. Their playdates led a very close friendship between our families. Her father is a regular running (and occasional beer drinking) partner of mine.
Clara is the current women's US cyclocross champion. Cyclocross is a form of bicycle racing. Races typically take place in the autumn and winter (the international or "World Cup" season is October–February), and consist of many laps of a short (2.5–3.5 km or 1.5–2 mile) course featuring pavement, wooded trails, grass, steep hills and obstacles requiring the rider to quickly dismount, carry the bike while navigating the obstruction and remount.
Cyclocross is an excellent spectator sport. Unlike long distance bike races such as the Tour De France, where the riders whisk by any viewing spot just once, cyclocross fans can keep the racers in view for much of the time and cheer them on as they pass by repeatedly.
The race Clara won this past Sunday was the Koppenbergcross which is in Belgium. The Belgian and Dutch riders are to cyclocross racing what Kenyan and Ethiopian runners are to marathoning. Clara beat them all on their home turf.