The Elite Women prepped for a blistering start as the snow flurries started to come down. Defending nation champion Clara Honsinger (EF Education–Tibco–SVB) was the clear favorite, but the challenging course and conditions favored chance.
Clara Honsinger was calm and happy before the Elite Women’s race at cyclocross Nationals. All Photos: Jordan Villella
As the lights switched from red to green, the best in the country sprinted to hit the slick-rooted course first to get the best lines. Honsinger wasn’t first off the line, but that’s not her style.
The front group was a tight mix of riders, including dark horse Raylyn Nuss (Steve Tilford Foundation), Austin Killips (Nice Bikes), Caitlin Bernstein (Nice Bikes), and Regina Legge (Comp Edge Racing).
After the treacherous off-camber, pro-only section, the lead group solidified as Nuss charged ahead, with Honsinger only a few seconds back and Jenna Lingwood (Point S Nokian) pursuing fast.
Nuss waited for no one as she immediately started turning up the pace trying to put Honsinger on the back foot and force a mistake. Honsinger showed no signs of urgency, pedaling smoothly gaining back time with every feature.
As the first lap concluded, Honsinger was a second behind Nuss, eventually passing as they entered the course for lap two. As the laps ticked away, Honsinger’s lead grew steadily. With two laps to go, Honsinger had nearly a minute gap over Nuss, with third and fourth nearly 30 seconds from her.
Honsinger would eventually finish 1:37″ in front of Nuss in a dominant performance similar to her 2021 National Championship win, gaining her third Elite Cyclocross National Championship.
The Bike — Lil Clara
Clara Honsingers’ bike, dubbed Lil’ Clara, was more than up to the task of muddy conditions in Hartford. Honsinger has been in Europe racing most of the season and has identical bikes at the EF service course.
For the muddy conditions, Honsinger went with Dugast Rhino tires, a trusted tread by the best in the world. The Rhino is praised for its grip without sacrificing speed and is one of the most popular tires on the European circuit for muddy races.
As for gearing, the EF Education–Tibco–SVB team runs full SRAM Red AXS on their bikes, and Honsinger went with a standard 38T front and 10–33T rear. The gear is enough to climb the final hill before the finish and keep the power on for the road and drag strip sections of the course.
The EF Education–Tibco–SVB crew had many custom-painted Cannondale SuperSix EVO CX bikes for Honsinger in the pits and around the team bus, but the stars and stripes was the one for battle.
The custom paint job is stunning, mixing classic fades and color blocking to create a bike that stands out in the mud. As for components, Honsingers Supersix Evo CX supports an FSA K-Force cockpit and Vision Metron 30 SL tubular wheels.
Clara Honsinger’s Cannondale SuperSix Evo CX
Frame/fork: Cannondale SuperSix Evo CX
Groupset: SRAM Red AXS (38T chainring, 10-33T 12-speed cassette)
Stem: FSA K-Force
Bars: FSA Energy alloy, 42cm
Wheels: Vision Metron 30SL Tubular
Saddle: Prologo Dimension
Tires: Dugast Rhino 33 tubular
Pedals: Shimano XTR