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On stage before the start of Gent-Wevelgem, Clara Honsinger was relaxed and joking with the announcer in the historic Grote Markt of Ypres, Belgium.
“You’ve raced here in Belgium many times, yes?” the announcer asked Honsinger, as music and their voices reverberated around the stone plaza. “You have won Koppenbergcross.”
Yes, it’s true, Honsinger said, adding that she expects less mud to be involved in her racing this time around.
The two-time American cyclocross champion is now racing on the road in the WorldTour with EF Education-TIBCO-SVB, and Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday was her first road race in Belgium.
Before taking the start, Honsinger said she was a bit nervous to race on different terrain than she is accustomed to.
Honsinger raced a full cyclocross campaign last season that included the Kopppenbergcross win, multiple World Cup appearances including a third place in Fayetteville, a defense of her national title, and an eleventh place at worlds.
After the race, though, she was upbeat. Like more than a third of the field, she didn’t finish.
“[Gent-Wevelgem] was a bit of tearing off the band-aid. For my first race in Belgium with this team, I would say it was fine,” she said. “Now that I’m warmed up and back in the race mindset, I’m excited to see what we can do next weekend in Flanders.”
Honsinger was on TIBCO-SVB last season in the U.S., but this is her first year at the WorldTour level.
After the Tour of Flanders on Sunday, Honsinger will be doing the second Paris-Roubaix Femmes, followed by a few more races in Belgium, and then heading to Spain in May for stage racing.
VeloNews will be covering the Tour of Flanders this weekend and the Paris-Roubaix Femmes in mid-April.