Three-time US cyclocross champion Clara Honsinger begins her UCI cyclocross campaign in Waterloo, Wisconsin this weekend. In familiar territory with the stars-and-stripes pattern on her jersey, the ‘cross star will debut a throwback look for her 2023-2024 season.
In early October, Team S&M CX announced that Honsinger would rejoin the women’s roster for the ‘cross season. The Oregon native began her pro cycling career at the S&M pro cyclocross team when it was launched in 2017 by the owner of Portland’s Sellwood Cycle Repair. She was a freshman in college at the time.
Fast forward seven years and Honsinger is back having ‘an absolute blast’ with Team S&M, back in school to finish her Bachelor’s degree in nutrition health science, and taking a new approach to cyclocross. Earlier this year she was left searching for a new team when her women’s WorldTour squad EF Education-TIBCO-SVB announced it would close the doors after the road season. Still, it gave her a reason to ‘focus on cyclocross’.
“So I’m taking quite a different approach this year. Instead of going over to Europe this fall, I’m going to be staying home in the US. I’m actually trying to finish up my bachelor’s degree. And so I’m doing school during the week and running two races on the weekend. It’s quite a busy term-bike race season,” Honsinger told Cyclingnews the day before the Trek CX Cup and World Cup Waterloo weekend.
“It is such a shared enthusiasm and great energy to be back [with Team S&M CX]. This past summer, as I was pondering where I wanted to go next, the move was clear. Clouded by uncertainty of European teams and limited US programs, S&M was grounded and driven. The idea of returning made me feel genuinely happy.”
It was with Team S&M in 2017 that she took silver medals in the U23 Women’s race at both the Pan-American Championships in Louisville, Kentucky and US Cyclocross Nationals in Reno, Nevada.
After local ‘cross races near home in September, she makes her fourth career appearance in Wisconsin. Friday’s tuneup will be the C1 Trek CX Cup, which she won on a perfect fall day last year. She was seventh two days later to open her World Cup campaign, going on to score four more top-10 finishes in the series, but a World Cup win is still a homework item to be completed.
“Winning a World Cup would be the top-tier goal. I see that within range and feasible. But honestly, looking at who’s on the start list [for Waterloo], probably a top five,…