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Portland’s Clara Honsinger wins cyclocross national championship

Posted by on December 15th, 2019 at 1:53 pm

She did it!

Honsinger at Bridge City CX last month.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The best women’s cyclocross racer in America races on a Portland-based team and is a former Portland resident.

22-year-old cyclocross phenom Clara Honsinger has taken the next step in her career with a national championship victory at the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championship held at Fort Steilacoom Park in Lakewood, Washington on Sunday.

Honsinger, supported by Team S&M/Sellwood Cycle Repair, won the under-23 race last year and was a favorite to win the elite category today. But that victory was anything but assured because she lined up next to legendary racer Katie Compton, who had won 15 straight national championships.

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(Photo: Oregon Bicycle Racing Association)

Honsinger showed patience beyond her years at the start of today’s race. Despite a front-row start she was outside the top five for the first several minutes and seemed comfortable watching the fast start unfold in front of her. Compton shot off like a cannon and led the race during the first lap. The battle at the front soon became a three-way duel between Compton, Rebecca Fahringer and Honsinger. Fahringer was the most aggressive rider of the day and likely had a lot to do with putting Compton in a spot of bother. Eventually, Compton fell off the pace. Honsinger proved too smooth and strong for Fahringer and rode away from the pack for a solo victory.

Honsinger had all the expectations on her shoulders today and she still rode a flawless race.

During Honsinger’s post-race interview, Team S&M manager and Sellwood Cycle Repair owner Erik Tonkin could be seen wiping tears from his eyes. He was one of many Portlanders in the crowd today rooting “Lil’ C” on to the win.

What a great day for Oregon bicycle racing! Thank you Erik! Thank you Clara and the rest of the S&M crew for giving us so much to be proud of.

——

CORRECTION: This post initially said Honsinger lived in Portland. That is incorrect. She has lived in Portland in the past but currently lives in Corvallis. I regret any confusion.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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18 Comments
  • Avatar
    SE 34th December 15, 2019 at 3:26 pm

    What a strong race! So happy for Clara today. And so excited to see what she brings to US cyclocross in the years to come.

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    Ruthie December 15, 2019 at 5:01 pm

    Congratulations Clara! Truly outstanding!!!

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    Brian December 15, 2019 at 5:02 pm

    Hell yes! Such an impressive performance.

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    Matt Meskill December 15, 2019 at 6:02 pm

    She rode the whole race like a boss. Very strong, smart, and wise beyond her years.

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    Champs December 15, 2019 at 6:41 pm

    It takes a special combination of skill, competitive drive, and a little bit of luck to not only knock off KfC but win at nats. Not gonna lie, I’d settle for just the former if I had it in hand.

    Congratulations on a MASSIVE accomplishment, Clara!

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    Jon December 15, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    It was a super tough race. The run-ups were long and the downhills very treacherous. Clara did an absolutely amazing job. All the training and strategy worked perfectly for her and that team!

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    Dave December 16, 2019 at 7:42 am

    And don’t forget–how much less ‘cross there might be around here without her sponsor, Erik Tonkin and his shop Sellwood Cycle!

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    jered l bogli December 16, 2019 at 9:43 am

    I need to find that race on the internet!!
    Congrats Clara!

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      Brian December 16, 2019 at 11:10 am

      Cyclocross world has the full event, I believe.

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      rain panther December 16, 2019 at 11:10 am

      Was busy all day, but I managed to avoid social media and watch it spoiler-free last night. Such an impressive race, just flawless. And she’s so damn steady in the sand – Clara is my freaking hero!

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      sarah December 16, 2019 at 1:54 pm

      The full day Sunday is on youtube (elite women race starts 4h18m20s in):
      https://youtu.be/Rtvupse9i40?t=15500

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    Paolo December 16, 2019 at 11:35 am

    Awesome race!!

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    middle of the road guy December 16, 2019 at 12:57 pm

    I was truly expecting every transsexual individual to dominate. What happened?

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      JJ December 18, 2019 at 5:04 am

      middle of the road guy
      I was truly expecting every transsexual individual to dominate. What happened?Recommended 6

      That’s a crappy comment. Pretty lame.

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    Vans December 16, 2019 at 2:30 pm

    Absolutely phenomenal!

    Congratulations to Clara,, Kendra, Erik and the whole Sellwood/S+M crew.

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    Joe A Fortino December 17, 2019 at 9:35 am

    so rad and great effort.

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    John December 18, 2019 at 10:30 am

    If your kid thinks it is cool an Oregon racer won the national championship, then help them to follow the rest of Clara’s season. Over the next two weeks, she’ll race four or five times in Belgium. Then in January she’ll race in France and Netherlands. In February she’ll race the World Championship in Switzerland.

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      Dave December 20, 2019 at 9:50 am

      Thanks for mentioning that–nice to be able to have a US rider to holler at the computer for;)!

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