Cyclo-cross riders Rebecca Fahringer and Clara Honsinger went head-to-head at the Gorge Gravel Grinder on Sunday with Fahringer beating the US national 'cross champion by almost ten minutes.
The pair were part of a six-woman elite field that took to the start line of the 93-mile gravel race. Six soon became four in the opening miles with Honsinger and Fahringer joined by the highly-rated young talent, Caroline Wreszin, and road star Jen Luebke. Fahringer and Honsinger pushed on to form a decisive move soon after and the two riders worked together and shared the pace over the undulating terrain before a group of Masters riders - who had started ten minutes later - caught the pair.
On a long climb, the group split with Honsinger caught out as Fahringer moved clear. Fahringer briefly found herself in between groups at that point but managed to link up with the riders ahead of her after 47-miles of racing. From there she pushed on to win ahead of Honsinger and Jennifer Luebke, who finished in third.
"This weekend was a nice reintroduction into realizing that pedaling a bike doesn’t need to be demoralizing," Fahringer told Cyclignews the Monday after her victory.
"I was happy for it to be just myself and Clara but normally in gravel races it’s about who can stick with the men for the longest but how do you race with one other rider when they’re as strong as you, or stronger? Luckily we connected with the Masters men who started ten minutes after us.
"We weren’t sure if we should go with them or not but Clara pointed out that the race would go by a lot faster if we went with them, so we sat with them for a bit up this long climb. There was one guy who was driving the pace and I went up to take a pull and Clara and I ended up getting separated in the group and I found myself between two groups. I closed the gap and that was at mile 47."
From that point, Fahringer was able to extend her advantage over Honsinger but the winner admitted that she came into the race slightly intimidated by her main rival.
"We raced a lot in the cyclo-cross season but I think that this was our first time racing against each other away from 'cross. I know she’s strong on the road too so I was a bit intimidated going into it but I don’t know if I just wanted it more, because after a long cross season I was ready for a victory or if she was just less prepared. I’m a pretty strong gravel rider who can ride at a threshold, and I feel like gravel is where I should focus, but cyclo-cross is just too much fun."
“Racing against Clara on the World Cup Cyclocross stage this year, she clearly bested me every time. Being at a regional level gravel race, of course I was still intimidated by her, but I think gravel is a bit more in my wheelhouse and where I suffer the best. I am not sure if I out-suffered her today or just wanted the win more, but it did feel good to finally get a win against her this year.”
Fahringer, who Won the Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder in 2019, will now put the finishing touches to her gravel season before planning her to cyclo-cross in the second half of the year.
For the men's results and report, click here.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|7||Patty Jo Struve||4:04:03|
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