Proving that her silver medal at the UCI World Cup round in Namur was no fluke, US cyclo-cross champion Clara Honsinger followed it with another runner-up finish in Dendermonde on Sunday in epic weather conditions.
Winter storm Bella soaked the venue in heavy rains, forcing the organisation to alter the course but even still, whole sections of the course were unrideable. The cold and wet conditions suited Oregon native Honsinger perfectly.
"The weather conditions made the race exciting," Honsinger told DirectVelo. "I have never had such a hard race in the mud. It was really a challenge."
The 23-year-old had a slow start and worked her way up from a chasing group in around tenth position on the first lap to sixth at the midpoint before moving into a podium position at the start of the final lap.
After catching world champion Ceylin Alvarado, the Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld rider started going after Brand but ran out of time on the final lap and finished 15 seconds down in second.
"I was getting closer towards the end. It's great to show that I could almost catch her," Honsinger said. "If I continue to perfect my technique over the next few years, I think I will be able to get an even better result than today."
Honsinger relocated to the Netherlands in November to race a full European season since all of the North American races were called off due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"This is the first time that I will stay for three months in Europe. We have great conditions for training," Honsinger said. "It's just easier, there is no jet lag, no travel. The races are closer to each other. There are more technical parts, and the competition is much tighter here."
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